18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

Matt 1:18-21 (NIV)

The virtuous and highly favored (Mary) and the righteous (Joseph) were hand chosen by God to be the earthly parents of Incarnate Deity (Jesus). Amazing. They are found among the faithful in that both believed God’s announcements to them – individually - through an angelic visit (Mary) and an angelic dream (Joseph). Oh that we too would be found faithful to believe the Word of God. Remember it was his belief what God credited Abraham with righteousness all the way back in Genesis:

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Gen 15:6 (NIV)

We find in Luke the account of Mary’s visitation and her appropriate response – keep in mind, she was a very young girl making her actions all the more impressive:

26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

Both Mary and Joseph were blessed because Scripture states they believed what the Lord told them would be accomplished though certainly they could not have possibly understood the fullness of the mystery of Christ’s incarnation. Such mystery is to be adored rather than pried into. Ecclesiastes comes to mind:

5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Eccl 11:5 (NIV)

Mary had been pledged to Joseph, betrothed for a waiting period of a year to demonstrate faithfulness and the pledge of purity. It was a binding contractual agreement arranged for individuals by their parents. It was only after the waiting period of a year that the couple consummated their marriage physically and would begin living together as husband and wife. The marriage would be annulled if the bride were to be found with child. In such cases the woman would be subject to public scandal and presented to the judges at the city gate. Such an act could have resulted in death by stoning. Joseph’s genuine love for Mary is demonstrated by the fact that he decided to divorce her quietly sans scandal – he was not willing to expose her. He was inclined to be merciful, choosing to forgive as one who had been forgiven. Interestingly, though Mary knew the chances were great that she would be dealt with as a prostitute, in danger of falling under the charge of one of the worst crimes, she chose to entrust herself to the One who judges justly. By the way, Scripture tells us, Jesus did likewise. She kept her mind calm and at ease by committing her cause to her heavenly Father. Peter later writes regarding our Lord Jesus:

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV)

As Joseph ponders his next steps, God lovingly intervenes and directs His servant on precisely what to do. It is the thoughtful not the unthinking whom God will clearly guide. God’s instruction often comes when we are the most confused and surprised and at a standstill not knowing what to do next. As we earnestly seek Him, He promises to faithfully show us the way:

3 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' Jer 33:3 (NIV)

Joseph was told the child’s Name would be Jesus – the Captain of our salvation – the High Priest of our profession and in both offices our Savior – there is salvation in no other.

12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NIV)

“You will always give effortlessly to that which is your salvation.” Tim Keller

“Man needs, above all else, salvation.” Norman Goodacre

“Is it not wonderful news to believe that salvation lies outside ourselves?” Martin Luther

What I Glean

  • God desires for me to believe Him.
  • I am not to kick against God’s best for my life - rather embrace it - even if I cannot fully understand it. He always has my best interest at heart.
  • Salvation is found in Christ alone.