I gave you a head’s up this is going to be a lot about faith this week. All the usual topics will return next week, but I can’t let this week pass without focusing on why we’re celebrating.
Yesterday, I shared life lessons from Mary’s story in Luke 1. But Joseph doesn’t get nearly enough love this time of year. So today I wanted to share how some of the same life lessons emerge from Joseph’s experience.
Here’s the account from Matthew 1:
18 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. 19 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. 20 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. 21 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.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
We see from our first introduction to Joseph, in verse 19, he was a good man. Joseph didn’t want to publicly disgrace Mary, but he couldn’t very well marry someone who had gotten pregnant by someone else, so he was going to quietly end everything.
Then he has a dream and the very first statement the angel makes mirrors the one given to Mary in Luke 1: Do. Not. Be. Afraid.
I love how throughout the Bible God tells us not to be afraid. That’s no easy commandment, but in my head it means He understands we would naturally be fearful about radical changes, callings, and commands. If you think an engaged man marrying a woman pregnant by someone else is a radical thing in today’s day and age, IMAGINE how mindbogglingly radical it would have been in Biblical times and cultures.
It’s the peace which passes understanding, the mention of His name, we see again here: Do not be afraid. You will name Him Jesus.
Don’t you love this part? Joseph was the one called to name God’s son. Joseph was given a role in this story which would fulfill prophesy. He gets to be a part of the promise – you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
I lost it when I reread those words. You are to name Him. He will save his people from their sins. Even before He took a breath, the promise of salvation was spoken to those with whom He would be entrusted on Earth.
And just as in Mary’s story, Joseph had to accept his assignment. He had a hard role given to him as well. But when he woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him (v.24). Even in the face of the hard and the anxiety and the certain obstacles with their families and friends, Joseph agrees. He says, “I’m in.”
Because of her yes, and because of his yes, the ultimate prophesy could be fulfilled (v.23): “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Merry Christmas. God with us.