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Joseph…did just as an angel commanded

December 22, 2022
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Daily Scripture

Matthew 1:18-25

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. 20 As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:
23 Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel [Isaiah 7:14]. (Emmanuel means “God with us.”)
24 When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

“The story of Jesus’ birth in Matthew’s gospel is seen through the eyes of Joseph; in Luke’s gospel, we see it through Mary’s.” * Early in Miracle on 34th Street, Doris Walker told Kris Kringle, “I believe Christmas is for children” (i.e. not for an adult like me). ** It’s clear that, at first, Joseph struggled—he didn’t believe Mary’s story. His readiness to call off the betrothal made his disbelief clear. Canceling the wedding (as kindly as possible—verse 19) must have seemed the sensible, grown-up thing to do.

  • This was probably an arranged marriage (Joseph in Bethlehem, Mary in Nazareth). Even if they were both in Nazareth, “in conservative Galilean families the couple could not be together alone before the wedding, so Joseph may not have known Mary very well.” *** What would you have thought if you had been Joseph as Mary told you she was having a baby, not by another man, but by the Holy Spirit? Are there faith issues that leave you with serious struggles to believe today?
  • After the dream of the angel, Joseph found himself, unexpectedly, in a story much bigger than just one couple’s marriage. Scholar N. T. Wright wrote that “Matthew sees Jesus as the one who will…. rescue his people, not from slavery in Egypt, but from the slavery of sin, the ‘exile’ they have suffered not just in Babylon but in their own hearts and lives.” **** How strongly do you trust that Jesus can, in fact, save you from any missteps, that he is the savior from sin we all need?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, though I sometimes forget it, I need a savior. Thank you for coming to be that savior. Redeem my inner and outer way of life from sin, that I may walk daily in your light. Amen.

GPS Insights

 Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

Mary gets a lot of credit for being faithful and obedient. And listen, she should. The poor thing was put in quite the predicament – pregnant and unwed with her reputation and entire future at stake. It had to have been terrifying, but according to the 38th verse of Luke 1, Mary reacted to finding out that she’d become pregnant by the Holy Spirit by saying, “I am the Lord’s Servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Certainly, Mary should be praised for her immediate obedience, but sometimes I find myself asking, “Did she have a choice?” Could she have said, “No, thanks. Appreciate the offer, but I’m good”? Sure, maybe God selected Mary because he knew she would be faithful, but it seems like the privilege was bestowed upon Mary without much input.

On the other hand, Joseph didn’t HAVE to marry Mary. When he initially found out that she was pregnant, he wasn’t going to. He called off the engagement. This was done so as to not humiliate Mary, but you have to think that he benefited from breaking off the engagement as well. I can’t imagine that marrying a woman pregnant by another father would gain you much esteem in the community. But after the angel appeared to Joseph and told him that he didn’t have to be afraid to marry Mary, he chose to have faith, to trust that it would work out. He could have easily walked away, and no one would have known any difference.

Both Mary and Joseph were faithful, but they were faithful in different ways. I think that in life, we’re sometimes asked to trust like Mary did. We’re put into a difficult scenario and given the opportunity to put our trust in God to get through it. I think of this type of faith when I think about those who are walking through troubling or challenging times like an illness or the death of a loved one. But then there are times when faith looks more like the faith of Joseph – it’s an option. These are times when we see an opportunity to trust God and we make a willing choice to believe. Perhaps that choice looks like inviting a friend to worship, volunteering to serve in the church or community, or making giving of our resources in sacrificial ways. I’m grateful that the Christmas story gives us multiple examples of what trust looks like in the flesh. I hope and pray that we’re able to trust like Mary in whatever scenario comes our way, but that we’re also making the choice to be faithful like Joseph – finding ways to step out and trust with our actions.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–15. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 8.

** From https://www.quotes.net/movies/miracle_on_34th_street_7562.

*** NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Locations 218742-218743). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

**** N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone: Part 1. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, p. 8.