Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Christmas Story: Joseph's Story

Joseph was a wonderful man. How do I know this? In just a few sentences, the scriptures tell us a great deal about the man Mary was pledged to wed. Not long before the marriage, he learned some very disturbing news, and yet his reaction... and how he handled the situation speaks volumes to the kind of wonderful man Joseph truly was.

Joseph's story is in Matthew 1:18-24:
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 
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. 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.” 
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

In the story of Christmas, Joseph is amazing. Have you ever really thought about that? He really is. Oh what he must have gone through! I think it is often overlooked, but Joseph is an important part of this story. He was the earthly father of Jesus! That was no small task, indeed.

Joseph's future was looking good. He was going to marry a very lovely faithful young lady, but before the wedding happened, he learned she was pregnant. Joseph was a noble man, so he decided he would break off the engagement quietly. He did not want to shame Mary.

Joseph was compassionate. He was kind. He was thoughtful. He was even loving toward Mary at a time when he must have been so hurt, heartbroken, and maybe a little angry. His goodness is evident...first in the caring way he wants to end the engagement with Mary....and then again when...he too...humbly accepts God's plan for their lives.

Joseph and Mary were planning their future. I'm sure they had talked about having kids, and yet...I'm sure they never once discussed Mary having God's son and Joseph being his "adopted" earthly father. I doubt that conversation had come up in their plans for the future.

Yet this was God's plan...and once Mary...and then Joseph realized it, they trusted in God to handle all the details and they willingly went along with His amazing plan.

Of course this part of the story makes me think back to the days of my engagement to Hubby. Nearly 26 years ago, right before a Christmas party, Hubby got down on one knee and gave me a beautiful diamond ring. He asked me to be his wife and I happily accepted. We too were really young. We were engaged for quite some time which gave us plenty of time to think about and plan what our married life was going to be like.

Over the years, some of our plans have happened...but nothing exactly like we imagined back then! No...God had other plans for us...much better plans. He has surprised us many times over the past 24+ years of marriage. And while we have never gotten a surprise as big as Mary and Joseph did, we certainly know what it's like when God comes up with a much different plan than what we have envisioned.

Has it happened to you too? Maybe you had your life all figured out. You knew exactly what you wanted to happen and yet...that's not how it worked out?

In our experience...each time the plan has changed, we might have been disappointed or even struggled with the changes a bit, but we also knew that God was in control and we trusted him to show us a better way. And I can say, without a doubt, that we can always look back and thankfully see that God's ideas were way better than ours.

In this passage, Joseph humbly accepts God's plan. He will become the husband of Mary. He will become a father to Jesus. God certainly chose the perfect man to be Jesus earthly father.

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