“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
If you watch YouTube videos you probably have seen a gender reveal event. Mothers and fathers express joy by telling family and friends about the arrival of their baby in unique ways. However, the biggest reveal party in history occurred when an angel of God revealed to Joseph that his fiancée would have a son. Scriptures don’t record any exploding halos filled with blue powder to celebrate the occasion. It does record that the man who would hold the honor of being Jesus’ earthly dad found out he was having a son while doing something dads do so well: sleep!
Matthew’s gospel (1:20-24) captures the moment when Joseph heard the news that “it’s a boy!”
Certainly, joy would have filled Mary’s heart as she held our saviour in her arms as the shepherds arrived and told of all that they had experienced and been told by the angels. What joy did Joseph experience after his supernatural, angelic encounter? Did he think about the things that many father’s think about? For example, did he wonder: Will my son sound like me when he talks and laughs? Will my son look like me? Am I ready for all this? Perhaps Joseph had some of these same thoughts after the gender reveal dream, up through the moments when he and Mary made their 90-mile trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There was a lot to think about during those days leading to Jesus’ birth just as there were lots of elements to take in and think about when those shepherds showed up at the stable.
As a God-fearing Jew, Joseph was obedient to the law and had Jesus circumcised on the eighth day after His birth. It was the joy of Joseph to call his son’s name “Jesus” during the covenant of circumcision celebration. Joseph would have looked in the face of Jesus the first time, seeing the eyes of His Father in heaven. Joseph’s son would bleed and cry out in pain as He was being welcomed into the covenant of God’s people. The final time Jesus would bleed would be thirty-three years later. Upon a Roman cross, Jesus would cry out for the last time while looking up toward the eyes of His Heavenly Father as He made a way for all people to enter a covenant with God throughout eternity.
As the hopes and fears of humanity was met in the baby boy born in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night, a joy explosion from heaven ushered in the New Testament era. Luke’s gospel records the moment the advent of joy arrived on the scene.
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Luke 2:8-15
This Christmas we are reminded that the joy of a father, both on earth and in heaven, remains. And the hopes and fears through all the years still are met in Jesus because he still saves. And it still is His joy to do so today.
May the joy of advent be yours this Christmas, just as it was for Joseph and Mary many Christmases ago.