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.’
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).
Imagine how gobsmacked Joseph must have been when Mary told him she was pregnant. He didn’t seem to believe her story about the angel visitation. How could this happen? He was a righteous man. She, supposedly, was a righteous woman. Yet, here she is pregnant. joseph, being a good man, did not want to shame her publicly so he decided to send her away quietly.
And then he gets his angelic visitation and as with all such visits, it changes everything. He wakes up knowing she told the truth. And what a truth it was! The baby growing in Mary’s womb was going to be named “Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” There is only one who saves. As noted in the meaning of his name, “God saves” or “God rescues.” God is the only one who can save people from their sins, and yet, that is what the angel says Jesus will do. As Isaiah foretold hundreds of years before, the virgin will have a son named Immanuel, “God is with us.”
God became one of us to rescue us from our sins. Only God can do that. No amount of self-help books, therapy, or good works can do that. Only God can. Only he can take our heart and fix the root cause of our problem- our sin nature. Only he can restore us. Only he can restore that faulty image of God in us.
As CS Lewis wrote, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God” (Mere Christianity).
And as Mary said “Yes” first, now Joseph says “Yes” to God and the work he wants to do through him. In spite of the risks and how daunting an idea it must have been, Joseph will now help raise the Son of God. He will tell Jesus stories of their faith and model it for him. He will teach him the family trade. He will guide and mentor him as he grows up. Raising a son that wasn’t his own and having to flee to Egypt were not what Joseph would have imagined his married life would be like. But he probably never regretted that night he said “Yes” to being part of the life of God.
Let us pray.
Lord, sometimes what you are up to seems to wonderful to be true. It’s hard to believe. Help us be open to the incredible journey of life with you, wherever it leads. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Consider what Joseph went through and how daunting it must have felt to be asked to raise the Son of God.
What hard thing has God asked you to do in the past? Was it worth it?
Are there claims of Scripture that seem to wonderful to be true, or hard to believe? Ask God to help you see and understand the truth.