In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
- Luke 1:26-38
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 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.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
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.
- Matthew 1:18-25
[Luke 1:33]: ”She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. ‘His kingdom will never end.’
“He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.
“Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat.
“Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.
“She touches the face of the infant-God.”
- Max Lucado, God Came Near
What Do We Know about their Relationship?
Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married. In those days, the engagement was binding, just as divorce was limited, at least in the Law of Moses.
Mary becomes pregnant. After some time, it is impossible to hide her pregnancy. Joseph has no idea who the father is, regardless of anything Mary says. The punishment is death by stoning for adultery. This would not be considered fornication, because of the binding agreement to soon marry.
Yet, Joseph plans to quietly divorce her. He loves Mary enough to allow her to live to see the baby born and maybe her family can care for her and the child.
But then, an angel appeared to Joseph, and he is told to do a brave thing. He brings Mary into his home to be his wife, although they do not consummate the marriage until after Jesus is born.
What Can We Infer about their Relationship?
We might infer that Mary told Joseph early on, before she was showing. She left soon after. She went to Elizabeth before John the Baptist (Baptizer) was born. Elizabeth was pregnant six months when Mary became pregnant.
We can infer, if Mary stayed for the birth, that she was showing when she returned. The gossip mill would be going full force before Joseph even saw her. So, did the angel visit Joseph during those months with Mary visiting Elizabeth (Mary having told Joseph before she left)? Or did he see she was pregnant along with everyone else in town, and then he confronted her? The answer to that question shifts the timing of when others knew Mary was pregnant and when Joseph made his decision. It makes the decision to take Mary as his wife instead of having her killed more of an issue within the community if the knowledge of the pregnancy predated the decision.
We can infer that Joseph was an honorable man, not wanting harm to come upon Mary, regardless of her sins, as he thought she had been unfaithful.
In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?
There are so many gaps here. We basically have Joseph being honorable and two visits by angels.
One thing that is clear is that the pregnancy is by the Holy Spirit. Mary had remained faithful to her betrothed husband, Joseph.
What Can We Learn from this Relationship?
The one key thing regarding the deity of Jesus is that the virgin birth allows Jesus to be born without the stain of sin, not that marital relations are sin. The pregnancy is Holy in that God caused this to happen. Many believe that the belief in the virgin birth to be unnecessary for salvation, but I think it is required to show the deity of Jesus.
Beyond that, Joseph did the right thing, but if he had not seen the angel and heeded the message, he would have been doing the right thing. It was not the Law of Moses thing, but he loved Mary enough to not have her killed.
Some people can get divorced and then remain friends afterwards. Could Joseph and Mary do that if he had divorced her? Yet, Joseph and Mary started their married life with a tremendous burden, to raise the Son of God. In accepting Mary as his wife, Joseph was taking on great risk and great responsibility. Marriage is hard enough without that extra burden.
And if Joseph and Mary could do it, we can survive the bumps in the road that happen in any marriage ourselves.
What Have We Learned thus far?
We have learned to:
- Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
- Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
- Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
- Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
- Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
- Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
- A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
- Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
- At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
- And to love, love, and love.
- Be trustworthy. Trust is required.
- And don’t worry. God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
- And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
- And never go against what God instructs us to do.
- And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered. Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.
- Not blindly trust our buddies from our youth as advisors and there may be emotional ties that make their advice sound better than it is.
- Understand that good cannot compromise with evil.
- And sometimes you have to weather the storms, both in the home and in the world of public opinion.
A Closing Prayer
We look to You for guidance. We are not bringing up the baby Jesus in our homes, but we know that our spouse is not perfect. We can get irritated when they slurp their soup or smack their lips when eating chips. But to accept someone who is pregnant due to an “unbelievable” story? That takes great faith in You that Joseph heard, understood, and weathered the public opinion storm afterward. It makes bad table manners seem petty and small. Help us to trust in You to weather our marital storms.
In Thy Name we pray,
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
Thanks for sharing this idea. Makes me peaceful. Anita
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