Mary and Joseph: A Story of Hope
Mary and Joseph’s story is a beautiful story of obedience and hope. Despite their circumstances, they chose to be obedient to God and place their faith in His promises.
Have you ever found yourself in the midst of an unexpected situation? How did you respond? Were you angry, frustrated, shocked, or hopeful? What was the response of the people around you? Did they abandon you, become indifferent toward you, or did they offer their support and love to you?
Today, we will go back in time to the story of Mary and Joseph, who faced a startling and unexpected situation, yet an incredibly amazing opportunity. Let’s see what their response was to God’s call on their lives.
A Beautiful Disruption
A young woman, most likely in her teens. A man already in the midst of his career as a carpenter. Engaged and planning for the day when they would be married. Hopes and dreams for their future of what was to come.
Then, the unexpected happened for Mary and Joseph. In the midst of their planning comes one of the most disruptive yet incredible events of their lives. It must have felt like a mixture of both awe and trepidation to Mary. Here she was, a young woman engaged to be married to Joseph when an angel appeared to announce to Mary that she would become pregnant with a Baby that would be conceived by the Holy Spirit and not by her husband-to-be. How wonderful to be chosen as the mother of the Savior! And yet, how terrifying that Mary faced the challenge of sharing the news with her parents and fiancé.
“26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’
34 Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ 35 And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.’ 38 Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:26-38 NKJV
What I love about this situation is that the angel addressed Mary as one who was highly favored, and then it is written, calmed Mary’s fears by stating, “do not be afraid for you have found favor with God.”
And with that statement, Mary boldly accepted the call of God on her life. She was obedient and showed great faith despite all the unknowns. Mary responded, “Let it be to me according to your word.”
Bold faith, my friends! Mary accepted her call with the confidence of knowing who she was and whose she was. Reflecting on her decision, I would assume her thoughts were something like what will my parents think. How will they respond to this incredulous news? Will Joseph follow through with the engagement or choose to break off the engagement?
For Joseph, how must it have felt to discover his bride-to-be was pregnant and not with his child? And for Mary to say an angel had told her these things? What would he believe? How would he choose to move forward?
Amid this unexpected situation, an angel appears to Joseph and confirms Mary’s call to bear God’s Son and the request for Joseph to step up as the earthly father of Jesus. Joseph, like Mary, chose to embrace and accept the Lord’s plan in obedience and faith.
Joseph and Mary chose obedience to God above all else. Despite the uncertainties their relationship would bring to their families and neighbors, they chose to marry. They risked ridicule over a pregnancy that clearly began prior to their marriage. They laid down their hopes and dreams of a quiet life in the village of Nazareth for a story of great sacrifice coupled with amazing joy. They did so believing that the precious Baby for whom God had chosen them as parents would be the answer their nation so desperately needed. And though they did not fully understand their position and what it meant for Jesus to be the Messiah, they stepped out in faith, trusting God’s promises.
For Mary and Joseph, their love for God superseded everything else. Their hope in His promises to bring healing and renewal to Israel steeled their resolve to submit themselves to God, no matter the cost. Matthew 1:18-25 NKJV tells us,
“18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.”
Fast forward a few months, and we find Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem for a census. Caesar Augustus, the Roman ruler, had decided to require every man to return to his hometown to be counted for tax purposes. Joseph, with a very pregnant Mary in tow, went to Bethlehem. While there, the time for Mary to give birth arrived. Having no room at the local inns and finding no comfortable accommodations, Jesus was born in a stable. Without the typical cradle, the Baby Jesus was laid in a feeding trough.
After the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were joined by an entourage of unlikely guests. First came the shepherds, exclaiming with enthusiasm over the appearance of angels singing of the good news of His arrival. Later came the magi, wise men from a foreign country to the east, bearing gifts of royalty for the newborn King.
Following the departure of the wise men came danger. King Herod heard that a Baby had been born who was to be the King, and he was “deeply disturbed.” The news of this newborn King brought about feelings of jealousy, and King Herod felt threatened by this revelation. As his jealousy got the best of him, he set out to destroy the Baby Jesus, who he believed would reign over him.
While King Herod is plotting to rid himself of the Baby Jesus, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him of the threat. Again, Joseph obeyed and fled with Mary and Jesus to Egypt until it was safe to return to Nazareth.
“13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.’ 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son.'” Matthew 2:13-15 NKJV
A Story of Hope
Mary and Joseph’s story is a beautiful story of hope. Hope for the baby boy God had chosen for them to parent. Hope for the healing and renewal of Israel, and perhaps even of their own lives. And with that hope and faith in God’s promises came their obedience to His call. This act of obedience led to the most precious gift – the birth of Jesus Christ.
This Christmas season, my prayer for you is that you, too, are willing to follow the Lord’s call. For what do you hope? Do you long for healing or spiritual renewal?
I encourage you to spend time this week reading through Luke 1:26-56, Matthew 1:18-25, and Luke 2:1-7 and reflect on the story of Mary and Joseph. Consider the example they have set for walking in obedience to God. What do they have to teach you about walking in obedience to God? Does the story of Mary and Joseph inspire you to live differently? Has God called to you? If so, have you answered His call?
My friend, this Christmas season, may you embrace all God has for you as you unquestioningly follow Him.
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