13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Christmas 2012 is officially over, the tree is still up but it looks a little bare under there. The dinner is over and all that’s left of the turkey is a bare skeleton. For many of you your visiting family members have left to go back home. The excitement of Christmas took weeks to build and then all of a sudden it’s over. Some let out a sigh of relief others suffer from the post-Christmas blues. Have you ever thought about what it was like for Mary & Joseph? We often think about the events leading up to and including the birth of Jesus, yet we seldom think about what happened to them after Christmas. Christmas turned their lives upside down and nothing would ever be the same again, but the chaos didn’t end after Christmas. Some don’t consider Joseph to be a very important character in the Christmas story; the Bible doesn’t record anything that Joseph ever said. The emphasis is always on Jesus, Mary, the Shepherds, Wise Men. While Joseph is usually ignored in the Christmas story after Christmas he is the central character. It’s interesting that Luke simply sums up the next 12 years in 2 verses Luke 2:39-40 while Matthew gives us more of a detailed description.
The Wise Men visited Mary & Joseph and presented them with their 3 gifts. When they leave, they go to bed, and Joseph has a dream this isn’t the first dream that Joseph has. God always spoke to Joseph in dreams, 1:20, 2:19, 2:22, here the angel tells Joseph to flee to Egypt, because Herod is going to try to kill Jesus. For Joseph Christmas was about listening to God and obeying: he was told to take Mary as his wife, he was told to flee to Egypt, he was told to come back, and he was told to go to Nazareth. There are several things we learn from the prayers of Christmas:
- Our OBEDIENCE
When Joseph heard from God he was obedient immediately, he didn’t waste any time. He didn’t wait until morning, he got them packed that night and headed out to Egypt. Think about what this meant for Joseph. He and Mary had traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem expecting to stay for a short while and then return. They hadn’t planned on moving lock, stock, and barrel. Their FAMILY was back in Nazareth, they hadn’t even said “Good-by”. Joseph probably had a carpenter business back in Nazareth what would happen to that? In the middle of the night, God said “Move!” Joseph didn’t argue with God. He didn’t ask God for “Plan B”, he didn’t wait to try to figure it all out, he just OBEYED. We pray but do we listen to God or better yet do we obey Him? Is my heart like Joseph’s, sensitive to God’s will?
- His PROVISION
When God calls He provides. Sometimes God asks us to do things that surprise us but remember He is never caught off guard He has already made provisions for us. God didn’t tell Mary & Joseph to go to Egypt, and then say, “You’re on your own, Good luck!” They had needs like money to live on while in Egypt and God had already provided it for them through the Wise Men.
- His PLAN
It had been God’s plan all along, Hosea 11:1, for Jesus to come out of Egypt, just like His children did 1500 years before under Moses. The Christmas story reminds us that God is in Charge. That’s not to say that bad things won’t happen. The first Christmas wasn’t exempt from suffering and trouble as we find Mary & Joseph fleeing for their life. They didn’t have their baby in Bethlehem, then “live happily ever after”. Their dreams of going back to Nazareth to live a quiet and peaceful life were postponed for a while. I’m sure their life was nothing like they had planned or expected.
Maybe you are experiencing the “Post-Christmas Blues”, maybe your Christmas wasn’t all that you expected. It wasn’t for Mary and Joseph but when we follow His plan we can be confident despite our circumstances. Every step of the way we see His hand in the Christmas story, the safest place to be is where God leads you. The Wise Men followed a star, and it led them to the Christ-child. They followed God’s instructions in a dream and it led them safely past Herod to their homes. Joseph followed the Angel’s instructions in a dream and escaped to Egypt. It is through prayer, listening to the voice of God, that we hear His will and the safest place you can be, is in the center of His will. Christmas may be over but His plan is not, it may be empty under the tree but your life doesn’t have to be. Jesus came to fill that empty place in your heart so you can live in Obedience following His Plan and experiencing His Provision.