This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. Matthew 1:18-19 (NIV)
It is time to think again the enormity of Mary and Joseph’s faith and obedience. If I think my life is a faith-builder and that it is difficult to be obedient to what God has asked of me, I need to consider this passage and the example that this man and woman have set for me.
Mary was more than engaged to Joseph. A pledge in Jewish tradition is a ‘done deal’. It is a covenant. A man and woman who are pledged are committed in a covenant to each other and before God. For Mary to be found pregnant means, to her community, she has committed adultery. Remember the plan for the woman caught in adultery?(John 8 ) Death by stoning was the verdict with little time or effort spent for a public trial.
Joseph is a good man. He doesnâ€™t want to harm Mary and that means he wants to make a way for her not to be condemned by the public. Maybe there was a way for her to move to another area and go in seclusion. She could have the baby and always say that the father died. It would still be a very hard life to be a widow and have a child to raise but at least there would be a chance for survival.
Divorce, even this time, carried a price; a stigma. Divorce is statistically a common occurrence today. 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce. That statistic is the same for church-going Christians as it is for those who profess nothing. Divorce still carries a price; a stigma. No matter the circumstances, the two people involved must live with the â€˜deathâ€™ of what they were once committed. The grief of that â€˜deathâ€™ doesnâ€™t go away any more than the grief at the death of a loved one. It becomes a part of who you are.
Joseph believed that divorce was what he was to do. He thought it was the compassionate and right course of action. Matthew describes Joseph as a â€˜righteous manâ€™; a man in a â€˜right relationshipâ€™ with God. But Joseph was going down the wrong path. God corrected him.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, â€œJoseph 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.â€ Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV)
Angels are bringing messages from God every day. Are they always celestial? No, sometimes they are our closest friends or an acquaintance or even a stranger. I know they are a messenger of God because I hear the truth of God in the what they say. When I seek God, I will find Him. It has been life-changing for me to ask God every day to give me ears to hear and a heart to receive only His words and plan for my life. No, I do not always want to hear what God has to say but I know it is Him!
Mary and Joseph. I bet they were nothing special in their communities. Good people but not outstanding by the worldâ€™s standards. In the hands of God, they were beyond extraordinary. They were an instrumental part of the Who that changed the world â€“ forever.