Window Shopping - Week 3 - Unexpected Family - Guest speaker Tim Haynes
We are in a sermon series called Window Shopping, looking at different ways God speaks through scripture and through prayer. But we also know He works through miracles. Last week Pastor Nick delivered a sermon about marriage, specifically the marriage covenant as it relates to Mary and Joseph. God performed miracles by making an unmarried, teenage virgin pregnant with Jesus, and God performed another miracle when He spoke to Joseph through a dream, and told him to defy the social norms of the day and preserve the secret of Mary’s extramarital pregnancy, and that Joseph would become Jesus’s earthly father. God even gave Joseph the baby’s name, Jesus, which is hugely significant in the biblical context, but that’s another sermon for another time.
I’m going to try to set the scene for today’s message with a little historical background. In biblical times, people didn’t travel too far from their ancestral homeland during their lifetime, at least not more than a couple times, and they almost always returned home. It’s where their family’s wealth was kept, going back many generations.
Luke 2:1-7 (EASY)
1At that time, Caesar Augustus was ruling the whole Roman world. He made a law and told his men, ‘Count everyone who lives in the Roman world.’ 2This was the first time that the Romans had made a list of everyone's names. Quirinius was the Roman ruler of Syria when it happened. 3Everyone went to his own home town for the Romans to count them. 4So Joseph went to his home town, Bethlehem. He was living in the town called Nazareth, in Galilee. Bethlehem was in Judea. King David had been born there, so Bethlehem was called the town of David. Joseph belonged to the family of David. That is why he went to Bethlehem. 5Joseph took Mary with him so that the Romans could count them. She went because she had promised to marry him. She was going to have a baby. 6While they were in Bethlehem, after some time, her baby was born. 7This was her first baby, and it was a boy. She put cloths round him. Then she put him in an animal's feeding box. She did this because the rooms for visitors were full of people.
What if everyone who was from Independence had to return to Independence in order to complete the census? What if they were required to do it, and to stay for a while until the census was completed manually? No electronic forms, no smartphones with autofill for your name and address. Can you imagine the no vacancy signs lit up at every single hotel, and people crashing the AirBNB server trying to get their houses up there and RVs and stuff?
o We just had a census, but ours was more of a recommendation, nothing like back then under Roman rule. The Roman empire was already in decline, because they were stretched so thin at the edges their authority was being challenged in some regions they controlled.
o This wasn’t just a day trip. By today’s standards the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem took a VERY long time. The route they took was about 90 miles, not too much different than the distance most of us take when we go to Tulsa or Wichita. But we don't usually walk and carry all of our belongings on a pack mule. It probably wasn’t a trip Joseph wanted to make, especially not for the Roman government’s benefit, and Mary was pretty far along in her pregnancy, considering Jesus was born soon after they got to Bethlehem.
o You know when you’re on a long car trip with your better half, and you really don’t want to talk, like when you’re mad at each other for something? How long can you go without talking to them? Nobody wants to break the silence, right? It’s a sign of weakness like playing the quiet game. We go visit my parents in Lawrence sometimes, and one time I made it all the way to like Ottawa or somewhere before I finally cracked and started to talk. I don’t even remember what I was mad about. Seems like we hadn’t been married that long. Now we don’t fight as much, but now that we have kids we both look forward to those silent car trips, and we don’t even have to be mad at one another.
--- I bet Joseph was pretty quiet that first day out of Nazareth, on the way to Bethlehem for the census. I bet he was angry, confused, hurt, maybe a little bit scared. Mary was definitely scared. I wonder how many miles it took for them to start talking again? How many hours? Days? It isn’t like they had much else to do.
Point 1: God created family, and sometimes he gives us family we didn’t expect. God is never surprised, and God never makes mistakes.
--Psalm 147:5 (ESV) Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.
--Proverbs 30:5 (ESV) Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
--Romans 8:28 (EASY) We know that God works to help those people who love him. He uses everything that happens to them to bring something good. He does this for those people that he has chosen to serve him.
o Do you feel sympathy for Joseph? He was pressured by the Holy Spirit into marrying his new wife. Holy Spirit said “It’s okay, dude! I’ll be your Best Man. You got this!” Mary was already pregnant, but it wasn’t Joseph’s biological baby. In that time, if anyone had found out about Mary’s pregnancy and Joseph going through with the engagement, it’s like he would’ve scandalized the institution of marriage for the rest of the Jewish community. His obedience to God carried the risk of a heavy social cost. He married her anyway, out of devotion, out of love, and he was prepared to make sacrifices.
o Do you feel sorry for Mary? Even though Gabriel told Mary that she would be the Savior’s mom, the community around her would've been very skeptical if they had found out. Mary was young, and she wasn’t married yet. Why was she chosen? Why not a woman with authority and status? She wouldn’t have become an overnight celebrity if others had found out. She and Joseph went into hiding for fear of very realistic consequences they might have suffered, if not for God’s divine intervention to protect them during very dangerous circumstances.
o They knew what God chose them for, and through faith they became the weird, blended Holy Family.
Application: in order to truly seek God’s will, and live it out, we cannot allow fears and pressures to draw our focus away from God. Our priorities need to reflect God’s priorities.
Point 2: We can’t control what our family does
o There are members of my family who have amazing testimonies. Testimonies of God working in their lives in the midst of marriage troubles, battling addiction, battling sickness, coping with grief and loss. We can choose to look on those people with shame and embarrassment, and we can act like we don’t know them. We can pretend that our family never makes mistakes. We can pretend that we’ve never made mistakes and that God loves us more because we're perfect. Or we can choose to be proud of our family’s reliance on God and excited for Him continuing to work in their lives. God transforms lives. We should point to the Lord, who can restore a struggling marriage, break the chains of addiction, and heal the sick, and praise Him for laying His holy hands on our loved ones.
o But when someone makes us mad, do we sometimes wonder why God loves them just as much as he loves us?
o Do we hold our family to a higher standard than everyone else?
o Do we take advantage of our family more than we take advantage of others?
Luke 15:29-32 (EASY translation) - Parable of the Prodigal Son
---The older brother was angry. He believed that because of how the younger brother acted, he didn’t deserve his father’s grace anymore. The older brother may have been jealous of his father’s attention.
---Does God ever run out of attention? Does he ever run out of grace?
Matthew 18:12-14 (EASY) - “Think about a man who has 100 sheep. He discovers that one of his sheep is not there with the others. What does he do? He leaves all his other sheep on the hills. He goes to look for the one lost sheep. 13And I tell you this. If he finds that lost sheep, he will be very happy. All the other sheep are safe together. But they do not make him as happy as this one sheep does. 14God, your Father in heaven, is like that shepherd. He does not want any of these little people to be lost, not even one of them.”
---When the disciples asked Jesus who is important in heaven, they were wondering if there is some hierarchy that makes some people more saved than others, or somehow more elevated, more loved, more valued by Christ. Rather than get mad, Jesus shares a little of His heart – God's heart. He explains that God’s flock is always one sheep short. He doesn’t directly say it, but I think he’s trying to tell the disciples that as followers of Christ, no matter how big our flock is, our flock is always one sheep short, too.
--- Ephesians4:32(EASY) “Instead, help one another and be kind to each other. Forgive one another. Remember that God has forgiven you because of what Christ has done.”
Application: If we desire to follow Christ and seek his will in our lives, we must rejoice for the things He rejoices for. God has enough love and grace for everybody, more than we could ever consume. His supply cannot be depleted. Nothing can separate us – or anybody else – from it.