“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothedto 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.’” Mt. 1:18-21 (ESV)
When Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy, he naturally assumed that there was another man. He could have created a public scandal that would have cleared his reputation but at the same time endangered Mary. However, Joseph reacted like a true gentleman. In spite of that supposed betrayal, he decided to end the relationship quietly. It took divine intervention in the form of a dream to convince Joseph to remain in the relationship with Mary.
What is often missed is the shame and stigma that they both had to face throughout the pregnancy.
Mary and Joseph know the truth about the origin of the pregnancy, but do you think that they were able to convince their family and friends of a divine pregnancy? Not likely!
A pregnancy occurring during the engagement period had a much greater level of dishonor and disgrace in the conservative Jewish culture of that day than it does in today’s liberal world. We should recognize that during these next several months, both Mary and Joseph endured a difficult time of estrangement from both family and friends.
Both Mary and Joseph had been completely obedient to God, yet they suffered.
When we suffer as a result of our obedience to God, we can either become angry with Him, or take the pain of that suffering to Him.
During this time of Advent, reflect on the sacrifices Mary and Joseph made for the Lord and be open to modeling their obedience and selflessness in your own life.
Prayer: Lord, help me to apply to my life the attitude of patience and endurance so vividly exhibited by Mary and Joseph.