Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.Matthew 1:18-25
This Sunday, in our bible fellowship class, we discussed unexpected events that have occured in our lives and how we have handled those situations. As everyone was openly sharing, I thought back to my personal life experiences. In some situations, I responded in a godly manner, but in others, I confess, I failed miserably. After briefly evaluating the times in which I responded poorly, I realized those were situations I lacked faith and lost hope in God’s ability to work all things together for the good in my life.
There are numerous examples throughout scripture that speak to a life interrupted. But, I would like to turn our attention to one of the unassuming heroes in the genealogy of Christ, Mary’s husband and Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph. Although there isn’t much information provided on the life of Joseph, we can learn some valuable lessons from the little that we do know. We are told in the first chapters of Matthew and Luke that Joseph and Mary were betrothed or engaged to be married. They had spent some time apart as Mary visited Elizabeth for several months. When she returned to her home, Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant, yet they had not been intimate. Talk about a major unexpected life event! So, how did Joseph respond?
Joseph wasn’t interested in shaming Mary publically, but resolved to divorce her quietly. His first response was to show a tremendous amount of mercy towards her instead of exposing her perceived sin. The bible describes Joseph as a just man, a man of great compassion that demonstrated a heart prone to forgiveness rather than a heart bent on revenge. The character traits he displayed do not come naturally. We can assume Joseph was an upright man that followed the teachings of Judiasm, a man of integrity that cared deeply for Mary and her future.
Given the situation, it would have been easy to listen to human reasoning and desire justice for Mary’s betrayal. As he was considering next steps, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel communicated detailed information to Joseph. He was told the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The baby was a boy and his name was to be called Jesus, the Savior of the world. Again, Joseph responded in a godly manner. He did as the angel commanded and was obedient by taking Mary as his wife. I’m sure he didn’t fully understand all of the changes that were taking place in his life at the time, but nonetheless, he chose to follow God’s guidance.
Dear friends, It takes great faith to trust God is in complete control, especially when we find ourselves in situations that are unexpected or don’t make sense at the time. By choosing obedience, Joseph showed he feared God more than he feared the opinions of man. He believed in God’s good provision for his life and placed His hope in the Lord. We are often called to make hard decisions, to stand on God’s promises and move in a direction that may feel uncomfortable. When met with adversity, let’s follow Joseph’s example. Let’s be quick to listen, slow to speak and consult with the Lord each and every step of the way.