GOD WITH US
Read Matthew 1:18-25. This is one of the Biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus, though perhaps not the one you find most familiar. Let’s dig into this unique narrative:
Joseph and Mary are engaged, which is a bit more involved than what we understand today. Being “betrothed” in Biblical was a legally binding relationship. It was phase one of the marriage. Mary being pregnant is a real problem, because it isn’t Joseph’s baby. We know from Scripture that she was still a virgin, and that this pregnancy came about because of the Holy Spirit, but Joseph doesn’t know that yet (verses 18-19). As far as he knows, Mary has cheated on him, and he has every right to call for her to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). His other option is to “divorce her quietly” which involves giving her a certificate of divorce and sending her out on her own.
I don’t know about you, but I really like Joseph in these two verses. He shows himself to be a stand-up guy. He is “unwilling to put her to shame,” as verse 19 tells us. But it’s bigger than that – he doesn’t want Mary to die for her actions. Even as he contemplates dissolving their relationship, he acts with care and consideration for her.
Have you ever felt betrayed by someone? Maybe it wasn’t cheating, but at some point, you’ve probably experienced a relationship going south. Did you get angry? Get even? Did you want to get even? Maybe you had someone humiliate you – a teacher at school, a friend, a family member. How did you respond?
None of us respond well to being hurt, and even here in his kindness Joseph is ready to bail on Mary completely. Perhaps this was almost the first ghosting. But in verse 20, God intervenes. An angel comes to Joseph in a dream to fill him in on the rest of the story.
Think back on the betrayal or humiliation you considered from the past – if an angel had appeared to you to explain things in a way that proved the other person’s innocence, would you be able to let go of the hurt? Do you think Joseph was able to let go of his feelings right away? We know in verse 25 that he followed the instructions of the angel right away, but it tells us nothing about how he felt. Not to mention that he is now tasked with stepping in to raise the perfect Son of God, Immanuel, which verse 23 tells us means “God with us”.
God is with us. He entered into human life as an infant, and He continues to walk with each of us in our hearts today.
- Compare this account of the birth of Jesus to the most familiar one: Luke 2:1-20. What details get shared in each that are similar? What details are different? Consider the two Gospel writers and why their accounts might be different – Matthew was one of the 12 disciples and a former tax collector. Luke was a physician who traveled with Paul and other apostles in the years following the ascension of Jesus.
- We don’t know a lot about Joseph’s life from the rest of scripture, but can safely assume he had died before Jesus was crucified since Jesus makes arrangements for John to take care of his mother (John 19:26-27). What are the things you learn about Joseph from these passages?
Don’t forget: MESH is this Sunday, September 18 at 5:30 pm!