Advent: Extraordinary Circumstances Revisited.

19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 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. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:19=25)

Not only do extraordinary circumstances occur in our lives, as they did with Joseph, but they may also present opportunities of grace. Joseph faced a dilemma. His betrothed wife, Mary, was pregnant and they both knew He was not the Father. What was he to do in light of her apparent infidelity?

Today’s text informs us that Joseph, her husband, was a righteous man. Joseph was intent on doing what was right. Joseph came to the “logical conclusion” that Mary had been unfaithful to him and he could not see a way to take Mary home with him and be married. He was a man of principle and wanted to live according to the will and Word of God.

However, Joseph did not want to disgrace her. Not wishing to expose her to public disgrace, he could either institute a lawsuit against Mary or he could send her away secretly. This is what he decided to do. He would divorce her quietly, which was an evidence of his love for her. This would not involve any judicial procedure.

Joseph considered what he should do. He reflected, pondered, deeply considered or contemplated in order to reach a conclusion about the matter. He loved Mary and wanted to be her husband. But he was finding it difficult to transition from principle to deed.

It was during those moments of thought and reflection on what he should do that an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The text does not tell us who specifically the angel was, but I suspect it was Gabriel. The angel told Joseph not to be afraid about taking Mary as his wife. In other words, Joseph was not to hesitate or be anxious about marrying Mary. The reason being was that the child conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Mary had not been unfaithful at all.

The angel continued by saying that Mary would bear a Son, a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 which says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name, Emmanuel.”

 In light of this news, the angel also said that Joseph was to call the boy’s name Jesus which meant Yahweh is salvation. The reason the angel gave was that Jesus would save His people from their sins. This promise is restated in Acts 4:12 which says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Joseph obeyed the Lord and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took Mary as his wife. He took her into his home when the betrothal period was over and married her. However, the text goes on to say that he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son. They did not consummate their marriage until after Jesus was born. Joseph also called the child’s name Jesus (Matthew 12:46-47; Mark 3:31-32; Mark 6:1-3; Luke 8:19-20; John 2:12; John 7:3-10; Acts 1:14).

Did Joseph and Mary have other children following the birth of Jesus? The Scriptures inform us that they did. Matthew 13:55 says, “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and His brothers, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?” Mark 6:1-3 also says, “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters with us?”

Face with extraordinary circumstances, Joseph was obedient to the Lord. God calls us to that same obedience when we face our extraordinary circumstances. Let us resolve to do so.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

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