LGD 160: The Marriage Dilemma

Young woman showing off her engagement ring while being pulled toward the person

There are only four short days until Christmas!

As we continue in The Ten Days of Christmas Advent series, we look in on the dilemma that Joseph finds himself in with Mary.

Young woman showing off her engagement ring while being pulled toward the person
Photo by Neal E. Johnson on Unsplash

On the seventh day of Christmas, Joseph is troubled by Mary’s pregnancy and wants to be respectful in his divorce proceedings.

Let’s turn the page and read a story of courage from the book of Matthew. Each of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) have a different take on the events surrounding Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Matthew and Luke explore his birth while Mark and John jump to his ministry’s beginnings after He is grown.

Jesus’ birth is just around the corner, but there is a bit of conflict now that Mary has become pregnant.

Questions surrounding her pregnancy arose since it was not customary for the engaged couple to sleep together or live together before their marriage.

Joseph wanted to be respectful of Mary and break the engagement privately so as not to disgrace her.

Matthew says it was because “Joseph was a righteous man.” This is an interesting observation. I think this implies, to some extent, that Joseph had an equally intimate relationship with the Lord as Mary did.

God can choose anyone to play a pivotal role in the narrative, but God chose Joseph to be wed to Mary. The Lord doesn’t make mistakes, and He was setting the foundation for a strong family.

Joseph was a “righteous” man. This most likely implied he kept the tenets of the Jewish faith and did what was right. His decision to break the engagement privately shows honor for Mary as much as for himself. Others in his shoes may have chosen a different path.

Throughout the Old Testament, angels had visited men in their dreams or shown them things to come – Jacob, Joseph, and Daniel, to name a few.

Joseph is the first recorded man to receive a visit from an angel in their dreams in the New Testament.

This is a different visit from the Zechariah and Mary’s visit – those appeared to take place during the day and while they were lucid or awake.

Joseph has gone to sleep, and an angel visits him. Matthew records the interaction.

“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 

And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.'”

Matthew 1:20-21

I love this passage because the angel reminds him of who he is – “Joseph, son of David.” This is about his lineage.

From our previous study of the genealogy of Christ, Joseph is part of the royal lineage.

The angel says do not be afraid.

I wonder if the angel said, “you are the third person I have visited recently, and I am getting tired of saying ‘do not be afraid.'”

The angel reminded Joseph of what transpired with Mary’s pregnancy, and it was ok to marry her.

Sometimes, we need a reminder of the goodness of God when our world is in chaos.

God has a plan, and the angel reminds Joseph that Jesus’ purpose is to save the world. Maybe Joseph knew this, and maybe he did not. Regardless, it is a message that we need to be reminded of every so often.

Then… the angel went a little further back in history and reminded Joseph of Isaiah’s prophecy which Joseph would surely have known from his study.

“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

Matthew 1:22-23

After these reminders, Joseph woke up and continued with his marriage plans.

Today, our dreams are rarely something to write home about; however, in the Middle East, the Lord uses dreams to bring hundreds of Muslims to faith in Christ.

There are countless stories from missionaries across the globe of God’s faithfulness, miraculous provision, and using the supernatural to bring people to Christ.

Joseph was most likely a believer already; however, God still used a dream to reassure him of his purpose in the narrative of Jesus’ birth and ultimate purpose on earth.

Where do you fit in God’s narrative? Have you yet to bend a knee to the Savior of the world, or are you helping someone on their journey?

Prayer: Lord, thank you for taking a few minutes to send an angel to Joseph to reassure him of his purpose and your greater plan. Give us the courage to follow you boldly, and please bring healing to our hurting world. Amen!


The Ten Days of Christmas Series

I am the host of an ABF Lifegroup - a collection of folks doing community and life together. We are a ministry of Agoura Bible Fellowship. When I am not leading this group, I love to travel, take photographs, share stories, and design workspaces that matter.

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