Does the title of this article strike you as being odd? What in the world do Christmas and surrender have in common? Jesus surrendered to the will of the Father by taking on flesh and blood and being born into His own creation. Jesus is not the only One to surrender on that first Christmas. Mary surrendered and so did her husband, Joseph. Christmas is all about surrendering to the will of God! The family time is nice. The presents are nice. The food is amazing, but, the central focus of Christmas is worshiping the King of kings and the best way to do that is to surrender to the will of God.
I. Mary surrendered to the will of God
In Catholic and Orthodox circles, Mary is often venerated as the queen of heaven. She is not, according to the Bible. Mary was a humble sinner like all of us, in need of a Rescuer. In many Protestant circles, Mary is often downplayed because of the Catholic and Orthodox veneration. Mary was a godly woman who had a personal relationship with the Lord. God chose her to be the one who would carry her own Rescuer in her womb, deliver Him, and then raise Him so that He could save His creation (her included) from sin. God chose Mary based on grace. This was unmerited favor. This does not mean that she did not have a role to play in the equation. She was a virgin, Hebrew girl who had the opportunity to carry the Savior of the world in her womb, as long as she remained a virgin until after Jesus was born. That meant that she could not live in any way that she wanted while growing up. She had to protect her virginity, this beautiful gift from God that is to be given to a spouse on the wedding night. Even while she was engaged to Joseph, she remained pure. How many people today move in together and begin having sexual relations once they get engaged? It has become common place in our modern world. Mary was very serious about her purity because she had a personal relationship with God. After Jesus was born, Mary and her husband Joseph enjoyed the gift of the sexual relationship because Jesus was not an only child. The Gospel writers reveal to us that Jesus had brothers and sisters.
Once Mary learned of the fact that she had been chosen to carry and give birth to the Savior of the world, in her response, we see her surrender:
And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38)
Mary considered herself a bondservant of the Lord. She surrendered to the Word of God. In other words, she surrendered to the will of God. For Mary, Christmas meant surrender. She set a beautiful example for us all.
II. Joseph surrendered to the will of God
Not only was Mary a person who had a personal relationship with the Lord, but so was her fiancee, Joseph.
And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:19)
The text reveals to us that Joseph was a righteous man. This means that Joseph was “right” with God. In other words, Joseph also had a personal relationship with the Lord. Joseph was engaged to Mary yet, he made sure that they did not have sexual relations before marriage. In relationships, many times it is the men who pressure the women into having sexual relations before marriage. Joseph did not pressure Mary. Even after marrying her, he kept her a virgin until after she had given birth. This says a lot about Joseph.
Joseph was upset about the fact that his bride to be was pregnant. He was getting ready to end their relationship when the Word of the Lord comes to him via an angel.
20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” (Matthew 1)
Joseph had every right to be upset when he discovered that his bride to be was already pregnant. Joseph needed to make a decision based on all of the information. He did not have all of the facts. Once the angel came and presented all of the information, Joseph had to make a decision.
24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,
25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1)
Joseph, like his bride to be, Mary, surrendered to the will of God. For Joseph, Christmas meant surrender. Does Christmas remind you to surrender to the will of the Lord?
III. Jesus surrendered to the will of God
We often think of Christmas as a joyous time to celebrate life. It was and still is. Yet, for Jesus, it meant that He had to surrender His throne in heaven, for a time.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 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)
Christmas began the process of humility. God the Son, had to become like His creation. Jesus surrendered to the will of the Father by becoming obedient to the Father’s will. This journey would lead Him to the most humiliating death known to mankind, death a a criminal’s cross. It was a tough journey but, that journey began with the decision to surrender. For Jesus Christ, Christmas meant surrender.
39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26)
That decision to surrender to the will of God manifested itself all the days of Jesus’ life. Have you ever surrendered to the will of God?
IV. Benefits of surrender
There are many, many benefits to living a surrendered life. One is the fact that you get the privilege of having a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. Mary had a personal relationship with God. Joseph had a personal relationship with God. Jesus also had a personal relationship with God. Because of Christmas, you also have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God. The ball is in your court.
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
The second benefit of surrender is the fact that you have a Rescuer. Why do you need to be rescued? What do you need to be rescued from? Those are great questions. You and I both were born with a sin nature that we inherited from our parents. That sin nature has enslaved us all of our lives. That is the bad news. The good news is, God has made it possible for the power of our sin nature to be broken by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Have you ever been set free from the power of your sin nature? It is available to you by faith in Jesus Christ. Surrender your life to the Lord the way that Mary did, the way that Joseph did, and the way that Jesus did. It will change your life, your future, and your eternity.
As you can see, Christmas is all about surrender. May we all follow the example of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus this Christmas.