Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Keeping the Holy Family Humble

Merry Fourth Day of Christmas! I wanted to find an illustration of the humble family of Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus, but there appears to be no such thing. You can find lots of pictures of them in a stable emblazoned with halos and surrounded by the heavenly hosts. I can find a lot of pictures of Joseph leading a halo branded Mary on a donkey but there's nothing in the bible about a donkey, I just wanted a humble, poor holy family. 

So instead I went the other route. Here's a beautiful mosaic in the Hagia Sophia (pronounced Haya Sophia, it means "Holy Wisdom"), a visit to that 1,400 year old historical masterpiece is definitely on my bucket list. Here we see Mary holding the baby Jesus being visited by the Roman* emperor John II Komnenos and his wife Irene of Hungary. John is handing Jesus a sack of cash and Irene is handing Mary an official decree. Let's not let the fact that John was born 1,118 years after Jesus was born get in the way of a very beautiful mosaic. 

In fact other than the wise men and some shepherds showed up at Jesus' birth, this family was humble and they were humbled, and for some reason this realization hit me a bit harder this Christmas. We all knew that God gave his son humble beginnings but He did so in a way that insured his life would remain humble. Let's start at the very beginning...

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus (Luke 1:26-30)
In verse 27 Mary is described as "engaged to a man whose name was Joseph", in Jewish society an engagement went on for a year and it was a legal arrangement. There was little contact between the betrothed parties, and there was no 'smile and tickle' allowed at all. She's also described as a virgin. The word used here in Greek is παρθένος (parthenos) which means a woman who has never had sexual intercourse with a man. Or as Pastor Paratus would say "Know what virgin means in Greek? It means virgin."

Joseph wasn't happy with this premarital pregnancy either.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:18-19)
Joseph is a righteous man, δίκαιος dikaios, meaning upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God. Imagine his heartbreak when this righteous man of God discovered that the woman he was legally bound to marry was pregnant. He was going to send her away and the word translated to away is ἀπολύω apolyō which is also used for divorce. So Joseph was taking legal action to get her out of his life, I mean, here was a small town handiman whose fiance suddenly shows up pregnant. I don't know if you come from a small town, but I do, and I know how small town people are. They will love you but also They Will Talk.

According to John MacArthur Joseph could have taken her to the temple and accuse her of adultery and she could have been stoned to death, but Joseph cared too much for her. So consider this - a young couple in the tiny town of Nazareth get engaged, and the bride to be suddenly turns up pregnant, and the groom to be doesn't send her away? Shocking! Of course people would think that Joseph was the father because he didn't divorce her.

Keep in mind that that this is small town Judah, these people are incredibly legalistic and unbelievably self righteous. Mary took the shame of being called a fornicator because she obeyed the word of God, and Joseph took on the shame of being called a fornicator for the same reason. Of course this stain of illegitimacy followed Jesus. In Jewish tradition this made Jesus a mamzer, or in English parlance a bastard. Either way an illegitimate child is not welcome in Jewish society
“No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 23:2) 
The word for illegitimate here is מַמְזֵר mamzer, which means bastard, child of incest, an illegitimate child. And it appears that this followed Jesus into his ministry
"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him. (Mark 6:3)
Notice they didn't they say "Isn't this the son of Joseph?" this is a very paternal society, calling him the son of Mary implies that the identity of his father is questionable. Now there is reference to Joseph in his home town
They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven '?" (John 6:42) 
but these are his followers, folks that actually like him. Folks that don't like him throw the mamzerut at him:
"You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God." (John 8:41)
This is clearly why Jesus said Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown (Luke 4:24) Clearly the people Jesus are talking to are accusing him of being born illegitimately, he is being ostracized within his own community. Many articles have been written about this, I've seen some that says that no, Jesus' linage was never questioned in the bible because he's the son of God. But scholarly articles, much better written than this poor attempt delve deep into the question of Jesus treatment by his fellow Jews when the question of his legitimacy is called. I warn you, these articles get pretty deep.

To me, I think that God intended it this way, our lord and savior was humbled, born out of wedlock, a legal bastard child in a legalistic society full of self righteous prigs so that He would know what it feels like to be despised and hated for something that He had no control over, like being born out of wedlock, or being born in the wrong segment of society, or being born with the wrong color of skin. He humbled himself and was humbled merely by being born and how can you not passionately love a savior who did that just to understand us?
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)

*I refuse to use the word "Byzantine" That word was forced upon us by 18th century atheist "Historians" who refused to believe that the Roman Empire converted to Christianity and instead changed the name of the entire empire to satisfy their religious arrogance


  1. Excellent article, Doug! While people like you and me know about this stuff, I think the majority of believers have no idea or haven't given it much thought. You've just done them all a great service!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. This realization hit me hard this Christmas, we backed off of the materialism and parties, allowing only for the grandbabies, which gave us time to consider the true meaning of Christmas. This of course being the first advent of Christ, the beginning of the 33 most important years of this dying planet.