Read Luke Chapters 1-2 and Matthew Chapters 1-2
Our story today, is the Christmas story. And it begins with a woman named Elizabeth, who, though she is well past her child bearing years, is pregnant with her son John, who will later become known as John the Baptist. When she’s in the sixth month of her pregnancy God sends an angel named Gabriel to another woman, a different woman, named Mary, who lives in this little town in Galilee called Nazareth, and who’s pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, one of David’s descendants.
The angel approaches Mary and says, Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.
Now this freaks Mary out, she doesn’t understand why she’s being greeted this way, by an angel no less. She’s troubled.
The angel senses this and says, Don’t be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You’ll conceive and give birth to a son, and you’re to call him Jesus. He’ll be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he’ll reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
How is this possible, Mary asked, since I’m a virgin?
The angel: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.
At this Mary simply said, I’m the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.
Then the angel left.
So Mary heads to Zechariah (Elizabeth’s husband) and Elizabeth’s which was in the hill country of Judea. And as she enters their house she greets Elizabeth, and just as soon as Elizabeth hears the greeting, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps, like a big time leap, and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.
In a loud voice she says, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you’ll bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!
Then Mary sings. (Click on this link to see the lyrics of Mary’s song)
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then went home.
So everything seems great until Mary tells Joseph that she’s pregnant. I don’t know what was said between them but Joseph thinks that Mary has been unfaithful to him and if you think about it, it’s hard to blame him for thinking that way. He knows for a fact that he and Mary haven’t been together yet sexually. And he knows that Mary’s pregnant. So putting two and two together he decides he’s going to divorce her, although he decides that he’s going to divorce her quietly because he doesn’t want to disgrace her.
So it looks like the marriage is going to blow up, but then he has a dream and in his dream an angel tells him, Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife (But he didn’t make love to Mary until she gave birth to a son).
Later, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census be taken of the entire Roman empire. So everyone had to go to their own town to register.
So because Joseph was of the house and line of David, he had to go to the town of Bethlehem. So he does. He goes from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea to register with Mary, who’s pledged to marry him and is already expecting.
While they’re in Bethlehem the time for the baby to be born comes and she gives birth. She wraps him in cloths and places him in a manger because there’s no rooms available for them to stay in.
That night there were shepherds nearby watching over their flocks in the fields. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and God’s glory shone all around them and the shepherds were terrified.
But the angel said, Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Then all of the sudden a great company of angels appears with the first angel. They praise God saying, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
Then the angels left and went into heaven.
The shepherds say to each other, Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.
So they hurry off and find Mary, Joseph, and the baby — the baby lying in the manger, wrapped in cloths just as the angel said it would be. After they saw him they go around and spread the word about what the angel told them about this baby and everyone who heard it was amazed.
Then the shepherds went back to the fields, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Christ is born.
The only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, The Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ is born. (John 1:18, Titus 2:13)
The world’s historical inertia was interrupted that day by the birth of The Resurrection and the Life, The Son of the Most High God. (John 11:25, Mark 5:7) After Christ’s birth the world would be thrown into spiritual and cultural tumult and turmoil — by divine design. That interruption was a part of God’s plan.
Have you ever thought about how God’s work is so often done through interruptions? Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah and his wife Elizabeth were just happily working, day by day, serving the Lord, in a routine, ministering, when bam, Elizabeth, suddenly and unexpectedly is pregnant, (and Zechariah is even temporarily struck by the Lord and rendered unable to speak for months).
Mary’s in her routine of preparing for her wedding with Joseph but then an angel shows up and she also unexpectedly becomes pregnant, with all the implications of not yet having consummated her marriage.
Joseph’s in his groove down at the wood shop when he finds out that Mary’s pregnant. So he starts to work on a quiet means of divorcing her when that’s interrupted by an angelic announcement.
Then Caesar requires that they travel to Bethlehem, where there are no rooms available. (Later they’re warned in a dream to take their infant Jesus and flee from Herod’s henchmen to Egypt — yet another interruption)
It’s just one thing after another.
There’s a strong pattern of God using interruptions to accomplish His plans throughout the scriptures.
Abraham’s life was interrupted when the LORD told him, Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. And he was interrupted again when God directed him to travel to Mount Moriah and offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
Moses was on track to take a high level position in the Egyptian government, perhaps even becoming the next Pharoah, when his life was interrupted for forty years when he had to flee to the wilderness after he killed the Egyptian.
Jacob’s son Joseph had his life interrupted when he was sold into slavery. And again when he was falsely accused of having an affair with his master’s wife and thrown in jail.
David’s life was interrupted when he had to flee from Saul. And his life was interrupted again when he had to flee from Absalom.
Daniel was in a nice routine of praying to the LORD three times a day when he was thrown into the lion’s den.
The last three years of Jesus’ life were filled with interruptions. He was interrupted first by His mother asking Him to turn water into wine, then by a an untold number of people asking for healing, he was even interrupted by people asking him to give audience to children. Not surprisingly, He handled His interruptions with great grace, wisdom, and power.
The scriptures are filled with examples of how God uses interruptions to accomplish His work.
Let me tell you something about myself — I hate to be interrupted. Perhaps it comes from my years in the fire service where I was constantly interrupted by the call of the alarm bell. In the fire service your interrupted in the middle of a meal, in the middle of a project, in the middle of a shower, it’s constant. Or maybe it’s just that part of my personality that loves to find my groove and to fall into a deep zone of concentration — uninterrupted concentration.
I have to confess that sometimes, I even see Jesus as an interruption:
When He calls me to worship him in the morning and I’m tired.
When He directs me to read His word.
When He interrupts my day to help someone with a problem.
When He invites me to spend time at His house.
Not all the time, but sometimes, I can receive these as interruptions, even annoying interruptions — because — I hate to be interrupted.
Like the men of God in the examples above, sometimes we don’t have a choice in the matter. The interruption just happens to us.
But sometimes the men of God in the examples above did have a choice. Sometimes we do too. We can look for Christ in the interruption. We can choose to be obedient to God’s direction in the interruption, as Abraham did when he left Ur. As Joseph did when he took Mary to be his wife. As the shepherds did when they went to see Jesus in the manger.
So I have a problem and I have a choice.
My problem is obvious — it’s clear that the Lord uses interruptions to accomplish His work, and it’s also clear that I hate to be interrupted.
My choice is simple — I can blow Him off and stay in my groove, my routine. Or I can follow His direction.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you hate interruptions. Might I suggest that you and I need to take a fresh look at life’s interruptions? You know God could have revealed His plan to Joseph and Mary years in advance. He could have brought Jesus into the world any way He chose. But He chose to use interruptions. That’s not the way I would have done it but then the LORD declared to us, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” (Isaiah 55:8) One thing’s for sure — God’s way is always the best way.
When we’re interrupted we need to immediately look for God’s hand in the situation. When we’re interrupted we need to immediately look for God’s direction in the situation. When we’re interrupted we need to seek His will and follow what He has in mind for us to do.
The next time you’re interrupted…
This Christmas, not if, but when you’re interrupted…
Look for Christ in the interruption.
Thank Him for having His hand on your life.
Seek His direction.
Obey His direction.
Act on His direction.
It seemed to work out pretty well for Mary and Joseph.
One More Interruption:
Maybe you’re sensing that God’s Spirit is interrupting you at this moment. Perhaps you’re realizing you’ve sinned and you’re wondering what you should do about it.
Jesus was born to die for your sin and He did just that.
If God’s Spirit is moving you to receive Jesus as your Savior then go to So Your Life Is Falling Apart.
It’ll be the best interruption you’ve ever experienced in your life.