Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21)
In ﬁrst-century Jewish culture, a betrothal was a binding arrangement that could only be broken by the act of divorce. This is why verse 18 states that Mary and Joseph “had been betrothed,” while verse 19 refers to Joseph as Mary’s husband. Even before the official marriage took place, the couple was already considered husband and wife.
Joseph was a good man, and he understood the public stigma associated with divorce. Therefore he planned to divorce Mary quietly, because “before they came together she was found to be with child.” However, God sent His angel to deliver a message to Joseph in a dream. Notice that God did not send His angel to ask Joseph if he would participate in the plan. Rather, an angel of the Lord explained the situation to Joseph and told Joseph the part he would play.
Joseph wrestled with how to handle Mary’s pregnancy, but it was not Joseph’s subconscious speaking to him. Rather, this was an angel of the Lord, a messenger of the living God.
- How can we make ourselves more sensitive to the voice of God, so like Joseph, we can live according to His plans rather than the expectation of our culture?
- When was a time you had in mind to do one thing but then God intervened and compelled you to do something else? How did this experience teach you to trust Jesus more?