The First 15

Monday December 19, 2022

by Thomas Mitchell

Today is Monday, December 19 and this week will conclude our journey through the Advent season as we look to the faithful family that raised Jesus.

Scripture Reading

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:26-28

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph, her husband, was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18-20


As Advent draws us toward Christmas, we remember the birth of Jesus – the Incarnation. Hebrews 2:17 describes this as the God we worship becoming flesh and blood, like us in every respect. We remember Mary and Joseph. They both participate in the story of the Gospel, and each has their own history. God does not erase our past when he desires to use us. Instead, who we have become – formed by our response to challenges, limitations, influences, and family lies, all come to bear on that moment.

The Lord sees faithfulness in our stories, forged in private moments when we were faced with the opportunity to step forward or turn away. Luke 16:10 says: “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Our faithfulness in the small moments means much to our God who knows our hearts.

And that brings us to Mary. Luke 1:26-28 describes Mary as “highly favored.” Notice the importance of the statement: Mary has favor with God. As far as we can tell, Mary’s past (although unseen to us and unrecorded in history) was marked by faithfulness up to the point the angel appears.

Joseph seems to be the same. Matthew 1:18-20 gives us a glimpse of his character, seeing that he is faithful to the law and seems to care for the way God thinks about things. When he hears that Mary is pregnant, he desires to do no harm, instead choosing to keep her story private and to end their relationship quietly. Scripture gives us no indication that Joseph was anything but eager and willing to support Mary and to raise Jesus as his own when the angel appears to him.

Faithfulness in our past gives momentum to faithfulness in our present. Faithful in little, faithful in much. This is the way the Advent story unfolds. Today, you and I have the opportunity to trade our fear for Christ’s courage. If we will be faithful in little, we will be invited to partner with Christ and others in the awakening of our world.

In what small ways, public or hidden, do you believe you are partnering with God right now? What areas of faithfulness are you struggling with, and could you surrender those areas to Jesus now?

Closing Prayer

Jesus, son of Mary and Joseph, I thank you for their faithful witness. When they were called, you found them to be faithful friends of God, and I want to be seen as the same. Teach me to be faithful in little. Let my heart delight in partnering with you in the smallest and most hidden ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Songs of the Season

Listen and sing along with us to songs that will shape our Advent season. Today we will sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” which you can find here. Subscribe to our Spotify playlist featuring all of our Songs for the Season here.

First 15 through the season of Advent is adapted from Roots: Advent and the Family Story of Jesus available through Seedbed. If you or your small group are interested in using this resource for your Advent study, you can find more information here or send an email to

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