Joseph could have had her killed.
We are in the final week of our “12 Days of Christmas” Advent series. Christmas is coming! As I’ve been studying the Christmas story these past few weeks, one thing struck me. The Christmas story is really about a group of people that had to trust God during a very confusing time. The shepherds, Wise Men, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph–none of them had any idea of what was really going on. God had to lead them every step of the way.
I find a lot of hope in that.
There is no better example of this than Joseph. We have already looked at how he had to follow God’s instruction to escape danger on several occasions. But Joseph was faced with confusion and doubt from the very beginning of the story.
An Unfaithful Bride?
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 fulfill 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”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
I don’t think Joseph gets enough credit. The man was amazing.
He found a beautiful girl to marry. They were both young and virgins. Life was about to get very good… (*wink) Right up until the point he found out she was pregnant. It’s easy to treat the Christmas story like a fairy tale, but let’s remember that Joseph was a real guy with real emotions facing a real problem.
His first thought wasn’t, “I bet this baby is from God.”
She cheated. She was unfaithful. And he was crushed. This isn’t what the future was supposed to look like.
He could have had her killed.
In that culture at that time, this was an offense punishable by death. But even when Joseph was hurt, he still loved Mary. He was simply going to quietly divorce her. (Quick side note in case you’re confused a little: They weren’t “married” by our standards, yet. They were betrothed. But betrothal was much more than being engaged. Even though they weren’t living together and had never been sexually intimate, it still required a divorce to end the relationship at this point.)
God Steps In
God knew what Joesph was going through. So, He sent an angel to sort it all out. Which, if you survive the heart attack, is a great way to discover God’s will!
Would you believe the angel? I don’t know that I would. I would second-guess and talk myself out of it. I’d probably blame it on some tacos I had or something. Even though an angel came to Joseph, he still showed amazing faith and trust in God! I love this part of the story:
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him-
He didn’t wait around. He didn’t go back and pray for days on end to make sure it was what God wanted. Joseph knew he had experienced God. And he acted on it.
What Would People Say?
My wife and I were exactly 9 months from meeting each other to getting married. 9 months!
We had our first child a year and a half later, but we knew what people were going to think.
9 months, huh? There is only one reason people get married that quickly!
It was a real concern for us because we knew the truth–No sex until the wedding night. (Although we still think some family and friends don’t believe us! Ha.)
Now, Joseph and Mary weren’t “married” yet. (see the note above) But do you think Mary started to show a little baby bump? Of course! So, who was the evil one? Who was the fornicator? Who was the one that couldn’t wait until marriage (a very big deal back then!) and got Mary pregnant?
He was faithful, anyway.
I’m humbled by his faith in God. I’m encouraged by his ability to trust in uncertain times. Joseph was an honorable man that followed God when conventional wisdom said to go the other way, even if people were going to talk.
Following God through the Mess
From a human perspective, the Christmas story was a mess. Plain and simple. A pregnant bride. A confused groom. A king trying to kill the baby. No place to give birth.
It was a mess.
But from heaven’s view, it was perfect. A Savior. The King of Kings come to earth. Salvation. God is with us.
Our lives mirror the Christmas story
And that is what is so special about Christmas. It is a reflection of our own lives! Craziness. Uncertainty. Confusion. Danger. From our own perspective, life is a giant mess. But when we place it into God’s perspective, it comes into focus. Love. Grace. Forgiveness. Hope. A future.
No matter how crazy life is right now, take Hope in the Christmas story.
The Christmas story is our story. The story of a Savior that came into our world to bring Life and Love and Hope.
Let every present, every carol, and every cookie be a reminder that Jesus meets us in the mess.
And He brings Hope.