This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, or he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
(Matthew 1:18-21; 24-25, NLT)
I find the little detail that “Joseph was a righteous man” one of the biggest understatements in the Bible!
At the encouragement of God he puts himself in an unenviable situation! He marries Mary, a girl who is essentially pregnant with someone else's child, in a culture where such a union would be shrouded by rumour and shame.
As well as allowing his reputation to be smeared, he then does whatever he needs to in order to keep Mary and that child safe. This involved going on the run, relocating 3 times in two and a half years (in an time when people rarely ever left their own town!). Each time he would have had to rebuild his business and reestablish his community. All this in order to provide for the family he initially didn’t even want.
What I find so inspiring about Joseph is how faithful he is to people he wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to support, through circumstances he wouldn’t have wanted to be in. All because of God’s encouragement.
What people or situations are you working with that you would not have chosen for yourself?
It's of particular interest to me that the Bible doesn't record the details of those early years on the run. The challenges that would have been faced and the huge amount of persistent hard graft they would have required of Joseph. All his hard work and faithfulness is glossed over and summarised by the sentence.“He took the child and his mother and left…”.
All the Bible is concerned about is that Joseph got the job done. It was incredibly hard work for which he received little to no credit, but he did it. Because he was a righteous man. Challenged by this I find myself asking.
What does it look like to faithfully invest in the people and situations God has placed in front of us - however hard or credit free that investment might be?
What else about Joseph’s faithfulness encourages / inspires / challenges you?
For more Nativity-prompted reflections check out the posts below:
Photo credit: Picsea