Today we shift from Mary and her relatives to Joseph’s encounter with God and his journey of faith and obedience. Matthew 1:18-25
18 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. 19 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. This portion of the Advent story tells us a lot about Joseph’s character and their customs. Being betrothed in those times was more binding than an engagement today and they were considered husband and wife even though they did not live together or have relations. To end a betrothal it was necessary to sign divorce papers. Joseph knew because he was righteous, meaning he followed the laws of Moses and abided by them in his daily life, that announcing publicly that Mary was with child would lead to her public judgement and stoning. He cared for Mary and decided to do this quietly to save her life.
20 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. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23 “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.’”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Joseph was given directions from God through a dream. This was not an unusual way for God to speak with someone as he appeared to Jacob, Joseph, Gideon and others in Old Testament times and Joseph would have known these stories. The angel specifically said he was to take Mary as his wife as her son was of the Holy Spirit. She had not been unfaithful but was being used by God for a greater purpose. He would have known of the promised Messiah and that his coming was to be by supernatural means through the line of David. Isaiah who lived hundreds of years before Joseph had prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 of this coming event. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. As the angel spoke these words to Joseph, he knew the truth of Mary’s circumstances and stepped out in faith to do as God commanded. He was immediately obedient.
Joseph’s character was one of shining faith and obedience. He did not question, argue or doubt God and His request. He did not doubt God’s ability to cause Mary to be pregnant though His Holy Spirt. He did not seek help with family problems over marrying an already pregnant fiancée. He stepped out in total faith doing just as God commanded him to do. I thank God for this glimpse into Joseph’s character as it gives a picture of the faith and obedience God desires of me also.
What about you? Will you step out in obedient faith and follow God’s direction this Advent season? Look for those God given opportunities to show your faith in Jesus.