There are times in life when we can see trials approaching like a storm in the distance. Other times, we are plunged without notice into the deepest, darkest oceans of pain and suffering. This is what Joseph experienced.
The months of betrothal are when two strangers develop the deep bonds of love that will carry them through the long years of life ahead. It is not only the man and woman who are shaped and molded together during the betrothal, but their families as well.
For Joseph, the suddenness of this dark night enveloped him in the span of time it takes to say three words—“I am pregnant.” Suddenly, without warning, all of Joseph’s dreams and plans for his family were shattered. He loved Mary. How could this happen?
The pain of Joseph’s dark night was quickly equaled by an overwhelming sense of shame. Everyone knew that Joseph and Mary were to be husband and wife. Their families had celebrated their engagement in the synagogue, and Joseph now looked to Mary’s mother and father as his own mother and father. They were family.
Joseph found himself in a difficult spot. As a righteous man, he knew the Law, and the Law was clear—the punishment for adultery was public shame and even death by stoning. Joseph couldn’t bear the thought of his beloved Mary being shamed and then stoned to death. In spite of her great sin, he loved her, too much to see her die.
The other option was to quietly dissolve their marriage agreement. While less public, it would still be painful. Joseph didn’t know what to do. He knew what the Law said. He new what his heart was saying to him. There was no easy way out.
Since hearing the words from Mary that she was pregnant, Joseph had not slept well. One night, however, Joseph fell into a deep sleep. While he was sleeping, Joseph had an amazing dream. An angel of the Lord appeared before him and said,
“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.”
When Joseph awoke, he wasn’t sure if he could believe the dream or not, but it was so real. And it made sense. Mary had insisted she had done nothing wrong, that the child within her was from God, and she, too, had a miraculous vision of an angel describing a Mighty King who would be born from her and who would reign on his father David’s throne forever.
When Mary told this to Joseph, he scoffed at her. How incredible! Did she actually expect him to believe this. A child, born to a virgin?
But now, for some unknown reason, he believed Mary, and he believed what the angel had told him in the dream. Suddenly, he remembered the words Mary had told him as she recounted what the angel had said to her: “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Without hesitation, Joseph immediately obeyed what the angel had commanded. He took Mary as his wife, but he did not know her. Joseph remembered an old rabbi once saying, “hope burns brightest in the midst of the darkest night.”
This Week’s Core Belief
Jesus Christ (John 1:12): We believe in Jesus Christ, His deity, virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, burial and bodily resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father and His personal future return in power and glory. We are significant only because of our position as children of God.
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