“The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.” Matthew 1:18-25
Of all the people involved in the birth of Jesus Christ, I believe Joseph may have had the most difficult role. Joseph is engaged to Mary, anticipating their special date when it begins to become obvious that Mary is pregnant. It add injury to insult, Mary comes up with this crazy story that she’s been called to carry and raise the awaited Messiah and that she’s really still a virgin! Imagine how Joseph must have felt! He obviously doesn’t believe Mary because he decides to divorce Mary, the only way to endban engagement in those days! Its also obvious that Joseph loves Mary and that he is a good man because he decideds to keep the divorce quiet, so as to not publically humiliate Mary and to protect her from the current time’s accepted penalty for sexual impurity or marital unfaithfulness, which was death! Here’s where the story gets really interesting! As Joseph is weighing his options and thinking this through he too has an angelic visitor. I believe it was probably from the same angel, Gabriel, who visited both Elizabeth and Mary in this story, but Matthew, our writer doesn’t say. He does say, however, that Joseph should not “be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” He also tells Joseph to name their son, “Jesus”, which means “God saves”, because, “He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew summarizes his story by telling us that “all of these things” happened so that what God had promised in Isaiah 7:14, would come true.
The next part to me, is the most impressive, however! Verses 24-25 says that Joseph got up from his sleep and IMMEDIATELY married Mary, but didn’t consummate the marraige until after Mary gave birth to Jesus!
What am awesome guy Joseph was. He loved Mary and wanted to protect her, even when he felt that she had been unfaithful to him and that divorcing her was the only thing he could do. More importantly, upon understanding God’s will, he HURRIED TO OBEY GOD! In so doing, he took on the responsibility of raising the very SON OF GOD!
How do we respond to God when He gives us an unpleasent or difficult assignment? Think about it!