Joseph is reeling because his fiancee Mary just told him she was pregnant by someone else…she claimed it was God Himself! He loved Mary, so he considered divorcing her privately, so as not to disgrace her. Joseph goes to sleep – I’m not quite sure how he did that under the circumstances! In a dream an angel appears and says, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what she’s conceiving is from the Holy Spirit. She’ll give birth to a son and you’re to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:18-21 – paraphrase) I know, crazy right? All of this is supposed to be a fulfillment of a prophesy by Isaiah. Behold! a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matt. 1:22- 23) Though these swelling Words of prophetic declaration came directly from the Lord; the timing of this declaration was awful! and the answer to the key question, though true, was not desired. Has that ever happened to you?
Emmanuel, God is with us. I wonder if Joseph felt that way? The appearance of an angel is startling, and Joseph was so convinced that he obeyed. He took Mary as his wife and did not consummate their marriage until after Jesus was born. (vs. 24-25) That’s real conviction! Can you imagine the mix of emotions this prophecy and turn of events caused him? Public shame (you know there was talk), the piercing of his ego, the dashing of his hopes for how his marriage would be.
Sometimes miracles are happening that don’t
feel especially miraculous! Prophetic and life-changing experiences from God don’t always bring the kinds of tingly feelings we desire and get from church services. God is moving and changing things dramatically right in the midst of tragedy, confusion, paralyzing fear, what seems like betrayal, when we feel awful, disappointed, rejected and humiliated. It brought Joseph and Mary into isolation but was meant to exercise their faith. The miracle of Christmas is not just that Jesus was born in a manger…but that His parents were willing to hear and obey the Word of the Lord at all emotional, relational, reputational and financial cost to see it come to pass! Imagine their shock and awe when shepherds, angels and wise men came celebrating. Thousands of years later, we have no doubt that Emmanuel – God was with them! The whole world has changed. The challenge is to believe Emmanuel – God is with US!…even when we don’t sense or feel Him!
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