Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly. As he considered this he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 1:18-20 NLT)
The Biggest Loser reality show has had contestants who were not only grossly overweight, but who harbored unresolved fears. I have watched past shows where a contestant was deathly afraid of heights, and it took a lot of urging on the part of the trainers to convince them to face their fears and overcome them. On the present show one of Jillian’s team members was afraid of water. She couldn’t get him to let go of the edge of the pool. Finally, she just jumped in beside him and coaxed him into letting go and attempting to swim. He did the dog paddle as most beginning swimmers do, but he made it across. What a joyful expression lit up his face and he realized that he had conquered his fear!
We all face our giants of fear, and the people involved in the birth of Jesus were no exception. In our previous devotions we saw the fear of Mary, the shepherds, the Magi, and Herod. Now, we need to think of the fears that the prospective father Joseph faced.
If you were in Joseph’s shoes, what kind of fears would you have to face? Would you be fearful of Mary’s young age (she was thought to be in her early teens) to be with child? Would you be fearful knowing that you would be responsible for the baby’s delivery and upbringing? Would you be fearful of the ninety miles journey from Nazareth to the small village of Bethlehem? Then there’s the fear of Mary’s condition (she may have been about eight months pregnant) to make the trip on the back of a donkey over the hilly topography of Israel? What about lodging and food when they get there? When you arrived and found no room in the inn wouldn’t you be afraid?
The one thing Joseph had in his favor and which he could cling to, were the promises that God gave to him through the angel. He was assured that the baby would be born because he was instructed by the angel of the Lord to name him Jesus, for he would save his people from their sins. (Mt. 1:21) Both Mary and Joseph were given the assurance that Jesus would become very great and would be called the son of the Most High. “And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” (Lk 1:32 NLT)
All of us have to face the giants of fear. Fear of broken relationships! Fear of loss of job and home! Fear of faded health! Fear of loneliness! These and many other fears we have to deal with on a daily basis. But we have the same promises and assurances that were given to Joseph and Mary. They trusted in God and enjoyed the fulfillment of God’s promises. You and I can do the same as we cling to Jesus by faith. Through the many years I have known the Savior, he has been faithful in keeping his promises to me. The same can be said of each of you. Let us renew our commitment to him this Christmas.