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.”
Can you even imagine the emotions churning in Joseph’s heart and mind? He found out his fiancé was pregnant, and she swore that she had not been with another man. Even though he was devastated, he “did not want to expose [Mary] to public disgrace.” Joseph’s plan was to simply sign the necessary legal papers and let her go her way. Then an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and confirmed what Mary had asserted. So Joseph took Mary to be his wife.
Never forget that the essential doctrine of the virgin birth was lived out in ridicule and scorn by a young man and woman seen by others as having conceived out of wedlock. There was no way for them to explain what they could not understand. Without visits from an angel, who would ever believe the story? Jesus would grow up known as an illegitimate child. The Jews reminded Him of this with some cheap shots later in His ministry (see John 8:39-41).
Amazing, isn’t it? Jesus was born to unmarried parents and carried that stigma with Him for the rest of His life. Jesus was stripped of all royal privileges, all the way to the cross. Nate Saint, who gave his life for Christ as a missionary, said it this way: “If we could only grasp the significance of the Incarnation, the word sacrifice would disappear from our vocabulary.”
Father, I cannot even grasp the sacrifice of Jesus. From His birth to His death, He demonstrated ultimate humility. Give me the strength to follow His example. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
For parents: Talk to your children about the messiness that surrounded the first Christmas. Remind them of Jesus’ great sacrifice when He became man. Please share your Christmas stories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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