There is nothing shocking or overly exciting when the expected team that outranks its opponents wins. Sure, it can still be fun to watch your favorite team win a game, but the excitement and shock are lost in this kind of game. When the underdog pulls through and wins the game, shock and excitement are so strong they are almost palpable. These are exciting games to watch. After all, we all love a good “underdog” story. We love to hear about stories, teams, or people who pull together to win in the face of overwhelming odds. In the series we are in right now, Underdog, we are learning that the Bible is full of underdog stories. This Christmas week, it is only appropriate that we talk about the greatest underdog story of all time: the story of Christ’s birth.
What is one of your favorite underdog stories?
1. Why do you think underdog stories are so compelling to us?
2. Read Matthew 1:18-25. Based on what we know about Mary and Joseph, what would have made them seem like the least likely to be chosen to be the earthly parents of Jesus?
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
3. Why do you think God chose two unlikely, unexpected people, Mary and Joseph, to be Jesus’ earthly parents?
4. What character qualities do you notice in Mary and Joseph that might have made them uniquely qualified, although many would have viewed them as underdogs, to be Jesus’ earthly parents. What does this teach about the things that God values verses what the world values?
5. Read Luke 2:4-7. What details in this story set Jesus up as the ultimate underdog? In what ways does the humility of this story make us pause when we read it?
And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
6. In what ways in your life have you felt like the cards were stacked against you, like Mary and Joseph? How did you or how are you overcoming the obstacles you are facing?
7. What is one way that God can help you to be victorious as we enter into a new year?
Celebrating Jesus’ birth is not just something meant to celebrate individually. This news is meant to be celebrated together in groups! As a group, pick your favorite worship song that is related to Christmas and sing together, worshiping Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
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The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.