18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary and Joseph had promised to get married. But before they started to live together, it became clear that she was going to have a baby. She became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph was a godly man. He did not want to put her to shame in public. So he planned to divorce her quietly. 20 But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That is because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All of this took place to bring about what the Lord had said would happen. He had said through the prophet, 23 “The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The name Immanuel means “God with us.” 24 Joseph woke up. He did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. He took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not make love to her until after she gave birth to a son. And Joseph gave him the name Jesus.
As I read this passage of Scripture, I am struck by Joseph’s faith. Upon the angel appearing to him in a dream, he obeyed the Lord, but to have continued to have obeyed over those long 9 months must have been very much a faith walk for both he and Mary. Plainly, they had “evidence” before them that something amazing had happened – Mary’s growing belly. But I wonder how many times in that 9 months that Joseph had second thoughts or how often he questioned whether he had really heard from God. I don’t imagine that there was a lot of
family support for either of them – in fact their parents are not mentioned. I’m sure friends and relatives were aghast at what had “apparently” happened – except for Elizabeth & Zechariah. Pregnancy during betrothal was an absolute no-no, so I imagine that there were many times when Joseph and Mary felt that it was “them against the world”. And yet, they stayed true to what God had called them to do.
How often do we hear something from God that appears absolutely crazy, that calls us on a faith-walk that we have never experienced before? How often do our friends and family not understand? May we take courage from Joseph’s example of a man who, despite the weirdest of circumstances, chose to believe and obey God.
Lord, may I always have the courage to make those faith walks when you call me to make them. And may you place around me at least one “believing” person, just like Mary and Joseph had in Elizabeth.
Written by Ps. Jen Irving