It had to have been a shock. Could it be? Could it be true that his fiancée was actually pregnant!
And he wasn’t the dad! So, who could it be?
How humiliating! Maybe even shameful. I mean, how could she! Could it be true?!
Sure, people would be casting glances at her. But she wouldn’t be the only one getting stared down or being the subject of whispered conversations. Joseph must have been feeling the weight of this, too.
Eyes would be on him, as well. Would they believe that he wasn’t responsible? Would he break off the engagement? Would he ever be able to marry?
When Joseph heard that Mary was pregnant, his stomach had to have turned. Maybe his heart broke. Perhaps he mourned. He probably had lots of questions – “Why?” may have been a big one. It would have been hard not to get angry.
I’m sure you’ve been there. Humiliated. Shamed. Marginalized. All those were probably stacking up against Joseph. And he probably experienced them from a lot of people who didn’t understand or believe.
What do you do in those situations?
Well, here’s what Joseph did.
He accepted what was true, even if others didn’t.
Fortunately, after getting the shocking news, the angel appeared to Joseph with the explanation.
“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.”
In other words, “What’s happening here is a God thing. God is doing something miraculous that will change the course of human history and revolutionize the world. And He’s using you and Mary to inaugurate it.
“Granted, it’s unconventional, but it will be worth it.”
And here’s Joseph’s response. He chooses to believe what’s true and take the high road.
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
He believed what was true, embraced God’s vision, committed to God’s way, and maintained his honor and his wife’s.
When life gets tough we can forget what’s true. We have inherent value before God. He loves us, no matter what. No matter what others say or think, it doesn’t change the truth that God loves us. Nothing or no one will ever change that.
When life gets tough, it’s hard to lift our eyes beyond ourselves and our circumstances. The pain keeps our vision myopic. Life and our thoughts can easily become focused on ourselves. Joseph’s response reminds us to lift our eyes to God’s purposes and the needs of others.
And, when life gets tough, it can be hard to remember that God has a plan… and that He’s executing it flawlessly and that it’s good. God isn’t haphazard… and He’s not asleep at the wheel. He’s working. And He’s working a plan. Are you willing to get on board?
And last, when life gets tough, especially when it comes to shame and humiliation, it can be hard to take the high road.
Even before Joseph received the vision and explanation from the angel, he had Mary’s interest in mind. Why? Because, as Matthew records it, Joseph was a righteous man. He was a man of integrity. And he didn’t let circumstances affect it. Rather, his integrity shined in his circumstances.
In our worst moments, we want to fight back. We want an eye for an eye. We don’t want to turn the other cheek, we want to land a right hook to theirs.
Joseph’s story reminds us to combat tough times – even times of humiliation and shame – with integrity.
How about you? Are you ready to respond like Joseph? Believe what’s true. Embrace God’s vision. Commit to God’s way. Maintain your integrity.
Sure, it will take courage. But it’s worth it… and it’s right.
Take your first steps to embrace God’s vision for your life. Celebrate Christmas at one of our Christmas services, either in-person or online.