This post is part of the series His Encouragement
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Welcome! Welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible passage and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
— Matthew 1:18-24, ESV
Ah, there is so much to say about Joseph if I had the time and space to do so. I have often felt that he is often not given the recognition that he deserves. Here was a simple, godly man who learns that his betrothed is pregnant with a child that is not his. Yet instead of condemning her to be stoned for adultery, which was his right by Jewish law, he has such compassion for her that he seeks to protect her from shame even though (before the angel’s visit), he would have felt “betrayed”.
The Bible does not give us all of the details, but we do know that shortly after Mary was visited by an angel, she spent a few months with her relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth. (Luke 1:39-45) It is very likely that she stayed with them until after John the Baptist’s birth and then she returned to her parents’ home in Nazareth. By this time, she may have begun to show. I imagine that her father and perhaps if she had any older brothers, they would have gone to see Joseph, the man she was betrothed to marry, to explain the situation. However it was done, Joseph was clearly made aware of Mary’s pregnancy and the circumstances surrounding it.
All that we know for certain is Joseph’s initial react to the shocking news. He decided to “divorce her quietly” because he was “a just man and unwilling to put her to shame”. Even when he felt he had been betrayed by his soon-to-be bride and possibly even lied to by her family (A miraculous virgin conception is quite unbelievable!), he felt compassion towards her and did not wish her or the baby any harm. This truly speaks to the type of person Joseph was and how he lived his faith. The Lord does not do anything by accident. Just as He specifically chose Mary to be the mother who carried, birthed, and raised the Messiah, He specifically chose Joseph to care, protect, and guide the Messiah from his infancy into his youth.
Yet even after Joseph had decided to quietly divorce Mary, there must have been a stirring in his heart and a question in his mind. What if… what if it was true? What if Mary had not betrayed him but was really carrying the long-promised Messiah? The Scriptures tell us “as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…” The angel confirmed what he had been told.
“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21) When Joseph woke, he did not waste any time. He officially married Mary. What a testament to his godly character!
I would like to bring our focus to verse 21 for a moment. Here it is in the Complete Jewish Bible to give it the impact that it deserves. The angel tells Joseph: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Adonai saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.”
This time of year we love to share the nativity story: the virgin who gives birth to the Christ Child, the shepherds who are visited by a host of angels, the wise men from the east coming to present gifts, and the evil murderous king who tried to kill the Child. But let us not forget the entire reason that Christ came to begin with. There is a reason why Joseph was directed to name the newborn Child Yeshua. The very name itself means “salvation” in Hebrew, and it is from this Hebrew name that both Jesus (Greek) and Joshua (English) are derived. Why was this name chosen? “because he will save his people from their sins.”
Remember, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17, ESV)
Think about it for a moment. God is God. He did not need a humble craftsman like Joseph, a young woman like Mary, shepherds from the fields, or wise men from a foreign land to be part of His entrance into this sin-ridden world as the promised Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer. He is the Creator of the entire universe. A mere word from His lips caused the heavens and the earth to come into existence with all of the complexities of time, space, physics, biology, chemistry, etc. No, He did not need any of them.
But He choose them to have the honor and privilege of being part of the story. This demonstrates His enormous love and care for each of us. If He cared that much for Mary; for Joseph; for the shepherds; for the wise men; for Simeon and Anna at the Temple (Luke 2:22-38); for Zechariah, Elizabeth and John, then you can rest assured that He cares that much for you.
So no matter what you are going through, always remember that God loves you! And THAT, my dear friend, is good news of great joy.
God bless us every one.
Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:
- Trisha of Joy of Reading
- Nicole of The Christian Fiction Girl
- Jessica of A Baker’s Perspective
- Becca of The Becca Files
- Jenny Lynn
- Gina of Stories by Gina
- Rev. Rebecca Writes
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Continue reading this series:
His Encouragement: Compassionate hearts