God is With Us – Hallelujah
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to be our Saviour and for filling our hearts with joy. Amen
Read Matthew 1:18-23
18This 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. 19Because 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.
20But 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. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
New International Version (NIV)
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MeditationHow might you have reacted if you were Joseph?
Whereas Mary had an actual encounter with an angel in daylight, Gabriel’s approach to Joseph is strategically different. One can only imagine the turmoil he is going through, especially if this all happens after Mary returns from Elizabeth, a bump beginning to be clearly seen. Shock, disappointment, anger, confusion; understandably all would be part of his reaction, and, in that anguish, Mary might not have been able to get a word in edgewise.
After all what word was needed? His betrothed was expecting, and he knew that he was not the father. Two plus two equals four. He is not now looking for reconciliation but to end the matter in the most civilized way. For, despite it all, he still loves this woman who has apparently let him down so badly.
He could have worked out his anger by having her publicly stoned. Yet that would not bring him peace or any understanding of what had gone so terribly wrong. Alternatively, he could have led the name-calling that was, no doubt, already happening throughout the village. He might have let off steam, but inside he would be a broken man, let down by the person he loved. So, it is to his credit that he wants to divorce her quietly inflicting the least possible additional harm to Mary. In those days betrothal was stronger than our engagement and required a divorce to end it.
Closed to all argument or any plea for extenuating circumstances, in his damaged pride and hurt, the only way God could get through to him was through a dream. In fact it proved to be the regular way of communicating with Joseph over the next two years. (1) By using a dream you can bypass a person’s defenses and perhaps even enable them to imagine the impossible.
Mary is innocent, her love remains true. What a message to receive in a dream – and there was more. The child to be born would be the deliverer, not from the Romans or any occupying force, but from the slavery of sin. This was not a haphazard plan but one foretold generations before by Isaiah (2).
For generations the people had longed for God to tear open the heavens and come down (3). And down he would come, but never as they had imagined. He would come in the defenseless, vulnerable form of a baby who would yet be “God with us.”
In simple faith Joseph trusted God and obeyed. Now he had to face the hard court of public opinion and fake news. No matter; God had spoken, marriage followed and in due time the baby came. His name was of course, Jesus – Savior. Now that brings joy for all.
1. Matthew 2:13; Matthew 2:19 Matthew 2:22
2. Isaiah 7:14
3. Isaiah 64:1
Thank you, Jesus, for your birth that still brings joy to the world.