When I read the Christmas story, I am struck by the obedience of the people involved in the story.
Zacharias – he doubted the angel’s message, yet John was born in due time.
Mary – she could have refused to be the mother of Christ. She had no forewarning of her role in God’s plan, but she did not approach it lightly. She declared herself “a bondslave of the Lord” (Luke 1:38). Her beautiful Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55 is all about God and He dealings with mankind.
Joseph – he thought about sending Mary away and not marrying her. Instead he obeyed the instructions that he was given and married her and named the baby Jesus. He also obeyed when he told to take his little family to Egypt to save Jesus’ life. Later he obeyed again and took his family to Nazareth (Matthew 2:13-23).
Joseph and Mary – they followed the law and brought Jesus to the temple to present Him before the Lord. While they were there, Simeon blessed them. Because they obeyed they received the blessing (Luke 2:34)
The shepherds – imagine looking for a baby in a manger! Pretty ridiculous sounding, yet these men followed the instructions that they were given and found the Messiah.
The wise men – in their journey to find the king, they received instructions from two different men – a worldly king (Mat. 2:8) and the King of kings (Mat. 2:12). They chose to follow God’s instructions. We don’t know anything else about these men, but we do know that their deaths were not caused by Herod.
We can learn from the obedience of these people. From Zacharias we learn to not allow ourselves to be hindered by doubts. Mary’s story reminds us that our obedience should bring us closer to God. Joseph helps us to see that the first step of obedience makes the next step easier. The shepherds’ story points out the obedience brings blessing. The importance of following the right instructor is the lesson from the wise men.
The obedience of these people who are part of the Christmas story gives us some insight into the life of Jesus Himself. His life was one of obedience. He said,
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me.
We admonished to follow His example.
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps
1 Peter 2:21