But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus.
I’ve often seen Joseph as the unsung hero of the Christmas story. Read Matthew 1:18-19 and just imagine his incredulity when Mary assured him her pregnancy was an act of God and not of her sin! But when God confirmed her story in a dream, Joseph quietly obeyed. As a righteous man, he would have been familiar with the Messianic prophecy of Immanuel, quoted from Isaiah in verse 23. I wonder if he clung to that name for courage as a Divine reminder, “God will go with you.”
Make no mistake, Joseph needed courage to wed Mary. The culture they lived in was deeply committed to the Laws of Moses, and the religious leaders had added strict parameters in interpreting that law. Premarital sex was strictly taboo. As her belly swelled before the wedding date, Joseph’s reputation likely diminished.
I can only imagine the scornful jokes made about his lack of self-control. Worse, his tarnished image probably affected his business. If the townspeople decided another carpenter had a better moral center, providing for his wife and child would be difficult. Then there’s the daunting task of raising a child miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit. How do you parent the Son of God?
All this was just the beginning. Joseph’s faithfulness continued, as we can see in the rest of Matthew 1 – 2 and in Luke 2. Unusual events abounded: an inconvenient and probably unsanitary birth, a murderous king, a middle-of-the-night flight to Egypt, and more. Through it all, Joseph never wavered in trusting God and responding in prompt obedience.
Joseph’s life may have been filled with terrifying challenges, but it was equally full of incredible adventure. Visitation by shepherds who spoke of angelic choirs, extravagant gifts from foreigners, and further angelic messages must have filled him with awe.
Obedience brought challenges, but it brought wonder, too. Joseph lived in trust that where God calls, God also equips and supplies.
That promise is no less real for you and me. God’s call is still for prompt and unflinching obedience, even when the tasks seem impossible. Without Him, they are.
No matter how formidable the task or perilous the journey God may call you to, obedience comes with this promise: God will go with you. When He calls, He still equips and supplies.
Make this a Christmas to remember by changing the holiday paradigm. If Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’s birth, let’s give Him the gifts. Let’s give Him our complete surrender and total obedience. Give Him our whole hearts, souls, minds, and strength. After all, that’s what He wants, not only for Christmas but for always.
Take time to prayerfully assess your walk with the Lord. Are you afraid to take the steps of obedience He is calling you to? Remember that His call always comes with a promise of His presence. Take that step, remembering that God will go with you. Even if hard times come, I can promise obedience to the Almighty God will be worth it in the end!