So, you’ve got this amazing picture. And your job is to find the perfect frame to go with it.
Framing the picture. That was the challenge both Matthew and Luke had. They had this amazing picture of Mary and Joseph with Jesus in the manger.
You start asking yourself questions. Why do I like it? And why do I want it, like, permanently hanging there? What room will I put it in, and where? Who else will see it? And what do I hope to convey to those who do?
Matthew chose a kingly frame [the royal line of David, the Magi, and King Herod], a frame rich and royal. Luke chose a family, pastoral frame [cousin Elizabeth, hometown Bethlehem and local shepherds], a frame common and caring.
But they both had the same picture, the one and only Christmas picture, the picture of salvation, the picture of God’s ultimate love, the picture of Mary and Joseph with Jesus in the manger.
Matthew put that amazing picture in a frame showing the infant King Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise, the completion of God’s plan of salvation through the people Israel.
Luke put that amazing picture in a frame showing the loving Lord Jesus as the source of all fairness, the perfect justice of God.
But it is the same picture, of Mary and Joseph with Jesus in the manger.
In Matthew, the rulers political and religious see it and shudder. In Matthew, the faithful rejoice. In Luke, the proud, sly and self-serving get their due. In Luke the lowly, honest and true are blessed.
Taken together these two framers of this beautiful picture of the Holy Family tell us that in the Birth of Jesus the good rich, the good commoners and the good poor are blessed, and that the bad rich, the bad commoners and the bad poor are judged.
Our questions this Christmas are 1) What do you see in this amazing picture, Mary and Joseph with Jesus in the manger? 2) Where will you display it in your life and what frame will you use?
It really is a beautiful picture, Mary and Joseph with Jesus in the manger. Is there any better?