[Wade Grocott and his wife Richelle live in Moose Jaw, from where they set out on occasional surfing ventures in sweet sea spots around the globe.]
Today’s reading comes from Matthew 1:18-25:
18 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. 19 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.
20 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. 21 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.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Does the sequence of events strike you as odd?
– Mary becomes pregnant
-Joseph must decide what to do with her
– He makes a decision to divorce her quietly
– THEN an angel comes and explains a few things
Was God’s timing off? Was He out running an errand when the Holy Spirit/Mary thing went down? Then he had to send someone down last minute to save the plan from going way off course?
I mean, if you’re planning something as big as this, would you not want to make sure all the key players have the plot and everything is in order BEFORE you push that first domino? There is enough evil trying to ruin the story without one of the good guys messing the plan up by accident, because he didn’t know better.
You may say, “God knows beforehand what will happen, so it never was an issue”. That may be the case but if it is, why didn’t He tell Joseph what was happening to save him the feelings of betrayal I’m sure he felt, and the stress of trying to decide the right thing to do with un unfaithful fiancé?
If you are like me, you have read or heard this story many times over the years. I think that is a good thing, but we do need to be careful. It can become so familiar to us that our brains just skim over it, not actively engaging with it. It can become just a nice, warm story that we remember once a year.
I ask these questions because I don’t want this to happen. I don’t want to go through the season on autopilot. My desire is, in the midst of the speed and madness that easily enters into this time of year, to stop and consider the story, and the God who it is ultimately about.
If you ask me, I think God waited to tell Joseph about the plan because He wanted to test Joseph a bit, to have him wrestle with his faith, and to help his true character come out.
When I read how Joseph responded to the events as they happened, I am inspired by his love for his fiancé, and his love for and faithfulness to God. Maybe that is the point as well, that we the reader, would be inspired.
As we wait for and remember the birth of Jesus may you consider in a fresh way who God is and that He loved you so much that He came to earth for you. It’s okay (and I think encouraged) to wrestle with it a while. And if you are like me and often can’t grasp how much He loves us, that’s okay to. As we pause to consider the story, we can have faith that He will help us understand a little bit more.