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The family in the manger

POSTED: December 23, 2011 7:00 a.m.

CHRISTmas time is full of beautiful symbols that point us to the truth of life and eternity if we are willing to look with open eyes and open hearts. 
One of the most used … and perhaps most overlooked of all … is the manger scene itself. There is not near enough room in this short article for a full description of this wonderful scene, but I will choose to focus on one special thought. Front and center is Baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Everything and everyone else is incidental … the family is central.
There was one man, one woman, and their off-spring. Granted, Jesus was not actually Joseph’s blood child as He had been placed in Mary’s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit … sort of the first case of “artificial insemination” or in this case “God insemination.”
Understandably, Joseph at first was very concerned that Mary had been unfaithful to Him when he found out she was pregnant. But, once an angel of the Lord appeared to him and assured him that this pregnancy was the work of the Holy Spirit, Joseph took Mary as his wife and was committed to helping raise the child who was to be named, Jesus … meaning savior. 
When Joseph was warned by an angel that the child’s life was in danger, he took the mother and the child and fled to Egypt where they lived until the death of Herod who attempted to kill the baby he viewed as a threat.
Then, he bypassed the area of Jerusalem due to the threat of Herod’s son becoming king and raised Jesus in Galilee where he grew up under the radar of jealous, suspicious Roman Aristocracy.  
The only scriptural childhood record of Jesus was when he was 12 and traveled to Jerusalem with both of his parents on their yearly celebration of the feast of the Passover. Thus, we witness that he was raised faithfully under Jewish tradition. We see no mention of His father, Joseph, from this time forward. We can only assume that Joseph died sometime between this event and the time that Jesus officially began His earthly ministry as he was most likely much older than Mary. 
Interestingly enough, Jesus placed a compelling seal of responsibility to family from His last few moments upon the cross when He instructed the apostle John, “Here is your mother ( John 19:27 NIV).  Jesus death was focused upon providing salvation for all of mankind; yet in the very midst, Jesus made sure His earthly mother was provided for in her old age. Assuming the previous death of his father, this responsibility would have fallen upon Jesus as the oldest child.
God created family as the building block of society in the very beginning when he created Eve from the rib of Adam and instructed them to reproduce and populate the earth. God recorded in Genesis 2:24 NIV, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
All through the Bible, God has placed a premium upon family, even stating in 1Timothy 5:8 NIV, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
The most valuable thing this Christmas will not be the presents given or received. It will be the family gathered together … celebrating each other and the value of family as illustrated by “The Family in the Manger.”

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