18 The birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. His mother Mary had been promised to Joseph in marriage. But before they were married, Mary realized that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph was an honorable man and did not want to disgrace her publicly. So he decided to break the marriage agreement with her secretly. 20 Joseph had this in mind when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said to him, "Joseph, descendant of David, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus [He Saves], because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this happened so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet came true: 23 "The virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel," which means "God is with us." 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him to do. He took Mary to be his wife. 25 He did not have marital relations with her before she gave birth to a son. Joseph named the child Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:18-25 (God’s Word Translation)
What an entrance! Imagine yourself a witness to these events. You are there when Joseph ask to marry Mary; you attend as Joseph and Mary give their formal consent to marry one another. You are joyful as Mary and Joseph exchange their vows and become legally betrothed. Now the customary second stage of betrothal begins and the year long process. We now enter into the story in Matthew 1:1, Mary is still living with her parents, still a virgin, waiting upon the day that Joseph and his friends would come and take her to live with him.
However before they are able to consummate their marriage the Spirit takes action, Mary found with child. The Spirit took action while Mary was still living with her parents so that there would be no doubt that this child miraculously conceived apart from the means of a human father. Matthew simply puts it, “before they were married, Mary realized that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit.” (Verse 18) When we read Luke 1:30-35 we see that an angel of the Lord visited Mary and told her of this child. Joseph however had no pre-warning. Being an honorable man and not wanting to disgrace Mary and her family in public, he was going to quietly call of the wedding. We read that an angle of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream and told him that Mary was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit and that the son she would have would save the people from their sins. Can you imagine this, a son conceived by the Holy Spirit, the power of God, a son that would save the people from sin?
This was going to happen to fulfill prophecy, “The virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” What courage! What faith! Joseph did what the angle of the Lord commanded him to do. He took Mary to be his wile. He did not have marital relations with her until after she gave birth and they named the child Jesus. Fulfilling the prophesy and given life to the Savior who would save people from their sin.
Look a little more deeply into this story, specifically at Joseph. This is Joseph’s first marriage, a beautiful young maiden has caught his eye. A virgin from a respectable family, a woman that could be his wife, bear him children and continue his bloodline, a noble bloodline from the line of King David. Then to discover that she is pregnant before they have the opportunity to consummate their marriage. An angle of the Lord comes to him in a dream and tells him this is all okay, that this is supposed to happen, that she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. That sure does seem to be a lot to take in. The question I have often asked is do I have the faith to be obedient in a situation like this. Would I have the faith to believe an angle of the Lord that came to me in a dream? Would I have the faith to take a back seat to my life and allow God’s plan to take control?
We can see that Joseph is not a main character in this story. In fact Joseph is not mentioned much in scripture at all. He is there at the beginning, when they are married; he is there at the birth in Bethlehem. We see him present when an angle of the Lord appeared to him to warn him of the danger they were facing in Matthew 2:13-15, once again fulfilling prophesy. Then in Matthew 2:19-23 once again fulfilling prophesy. The next time we see Joseph, Jesus is 12, they are in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. The feast is over and it is time to go home the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem unaware to his parents that He was not with them for a full day of travel. After realizing that Jesus was not with them the returned as fast as they could back to Jerusalem and found him in the temple courts, sitting with the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When Joseph and Mary saw him, they too were astonished. Mary said to him, 'Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been worried and searching for you.' 'Why were you searching for me?' Jesus asked. 'Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?' Not understanding what he was saying to them, they took Jesus went down to Nazareth where he was obedient to them.