“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. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'” – Matthew 1:18-21
Even though our culture’s marital practices have evolved since the days of Christ, listen to any radio station and within a song or two, you’ll hear someone sing about having been cheated on or betrayed by a loved one. As a society, it seems to be built into our moral code that mutually committed, monogamous relationships are important, and betraying that trust and commitment is grounds for separation or divorce.
Joseph had every right to “divorce her quietly.” He could have divorced her loudly. What greater evidence could he have that his soon-to-be wife has been unfaithful?
And yet, here comes another angel to help show the people that our ways are not God’s ways.
So far, nothing about the way Jesus is coming into this world is conventional. This is a God of against-all-odds. This is a God of surprise and mercy, faith and redemption. He chose for his son to be raised by Mary and Joseph; he must have known that Joseph was capable of a measure of faith and mercy uncommon among men and women alike.
We all can use a little nudge in the right direction from time to time, especially when the right direction is surprising and much more challenging: “Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife.”
Advent Activity: Read the Nutcracker (And Open a Special Gift)
Can I just say a quick, “OH NO.” I forgot this was supposed to happen tonight. I haven’t wrapped the nutcrackers yet. Guess what I’ll be doing on my lunch break!
It’s also Lydia’s basketball practice night. Lord, help me.