Behold Your Servant
The early chapters of the Gospel of Matthew give us an account of what we call the Christmas story. But first the writer begins by giving us the lineage of Jesus. I’ve often skipped over all of this, as I can’t always pronounce the names anyway. But this year, I took in every name.
Given that this was a patriarchal society, it struck me that the genealogical record includes four women besides Mary, the mother of Jesus:
Tamar – a desperate widow
Rahab – a resourceful prostitute
Ruth – a destitute foreigner and widow
Bathsheba – an enigmatic adulteress
God certainly used some broken, outcast and hurting people — and in these cases, women — to bring forth the King of Kings!
So too, for us:
• It’s never too late
• We are never too old
• We are never too broken
….to be used by God!
All He asks of us is to be like Mary, the inconspicuous and unpretentious young girl who simply offered herself in surrender to the One who had captured her heart: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word” (Luke 1:38).
But what if we don’t have a background of great pain, severe hardship, highly questionable life-choices or some other type of dramatic testimony? Let’s look at Jesus’ earthly father: We don’t know too much about Joseph, Mary’s husband, but by all accounts he also seemed to be a pretty normal guy. He was a carpenter from Nazareth, belonging to the line of David.
However, Matthew’s account does say that Joseph was “faithful to the law” (Matt. 1:19), and he took his family to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover each year (Luke 2:41). When an angel told him not to leave Mary (Matt. 1:21), he obeyed. When an angel told him to pack up his family and flee to Egypt (Matt. 2:13), again he did as he was instructed. And he was once more obedient to the Lord when prompted through a dream to return to his hometown of Nazareth upon their return to Israel (Matt. 2:22-23).
The Bible might not tell us much about Joseph’s life, but it is abundantly clear that he was obedient to the Lord. And, unlike his wife Mary, Joseph is not mentioned beyond the first few chapters of Matthew, so he may very well have not lived long enough to witness much of Jesus’ public ministry. To die without seeing the complete fruit of his obedience, Joseph must have been quite the man of God!
Just like the women in Jesus’ line, we are not defined by our mistakes and circumstances. Like Joseph, we are called to simply be obedient to what He wants to do in and through us, and to offer ourselves as His servants, as Mary did.
Our story isn’t finished being written by the Almighty. Until He calls us home, there is at least another chapter left to be written.
So how will the remainder of my own account read? As one of discouragement and loss? OR as one of courage and hope, in which I confidently walk in the knowledge that He who began a good work in me will complete it (Phil. 1:6)?
No matter what our journey has been like up to this point or where our lives and our world currently are, God is still the faithful author and finisher of our faith-story.
So, today, let us respond to Him in brokenness and humility, just as David himself — a very flawed person in his own right, who was nevertheless called a man after God’s own heart — did:
“Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:7-8).