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. Matthew 1:18 (NASB)
Can you imagine Joseph’s reaction when Mary told him that she was pregnant? He knew that the baby wasn’t his, and her explanation seemed unbelievable. What? She had become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and would give birth to the Son of God? And an angel told her this? The Bible suggests in Matthew 1:18-19 that Joseph didn’t believe any of it. “And Joseph . . . being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.” (NASB) Joseph had other options. He could lie and say that he was the father, but this would humiliate them both and break God’s ninth commandment: you shall not bear false witness. He could accuse Mary of unfaithfulness and embarrass her. According to Jewish law, he could even have her stoned for being unfaithful. But the Bible tells us that Joseph was a righteous man. And he was a caring man, too. He didn’t want his fiancé embarrassed by her unexpected pregnancy, and also he didn’t want to accuse her of unfaithfulness and begin a flood of gossip. After all, the Old Testament taught, “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.” (Proverbs 11:13 NASB) Joseph was a righteous and God-fearing man. He decided to suffer silently, believing that Mary had betrayed him. He planned to quietly send her away.
Meanwhile, God was putting together the pieces of the Christmas puzzle, and the next piece was to confirm to Joseph that Mary had been truthful. Matthew 1:20-21 (NASB) tells us, “But when [Joseph] had considered [sending Mary away] 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. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
So, Joseph scrapped his plan, obeyed God, and did as the angel had told him. He took Mary as his wife, and he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25) What did people say when they found out that Mary was several months pregnant? Did they gossip and humiliate her? The Bible doesn’t tell us. What we do know is that Joseph stuck by her and supported her pregnancy because not only did he trust her, but he trusted God.
When you think about it, the beginning of the Christmas story is all about trust. Without hesitation, Mary trusted that the angel Gabriel had told her the truth. Joseph didn’t believe her, which must have hurt, but she continued to trust that God was working out His plan through her. After God’s angel spoke to Joseph, he stopped struggling with his decision and immediately put his trust in God and also in Mary’s truthfulness.
As this month of Christmas begins, how well do you trust God? Do you believe, as Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, that He has a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, a plan to give you hope and a future?