A Miracle In A Muddle
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly." Matthew 1:18-19
Though Joseph is only marginally mentioned in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, Matthew reveals a little more about Joseph in his account of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. We know that Joseph was a descendant of King David, and that he was a just man. Beyond that little else is said of him.
However, we can draw from his response when he learns that Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit before they are married. Joseph is deeply troubled by this and is conflicted and frankly afraid to marry her now, because of the shame and reproach that would fall on her and on his family if he does.
I imagine Joseph having this kind of conversation with himself. “No man knowing the Law would marry a woman who is pregnant by some other man. But she says she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Who does she think she’s fooling? I can hardly believe it; that she would have been with another man while we are betrothed. That’s just not her way. She would never do that. No. It’s out of the question. But as her husband I must do something. I love her so much and I don’t want to cause her any shame or embarrassment. Nor can I allow her to bring reproach on me or on my family. There is only one solution, I must send her away secretly. But, how will I tell everyone that she has gone and why?”
In the night as he wrestles with this muddle there appears to him in a dream an Angel of the Lord, (Gabriel).
“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.' So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:20-23
So let’s see where all this stands. Joseph finds out that his virgin betrothed wife is pregnant before they have consummated their marriage, then an angel of the Lord in a dream tells him, “…do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” You can marry her but you can’t be intimate with her until the baby is born. You will name him, Jesus, and you will have the responsibility of raising him but He won’t be your son, even though everyone will think he is. I can just imagine Joseph saying,
Well, just bless me some more, why don’t you?
It seems as though Joseph will have all the responsibilities of a husband and of raising this child but enjoy none of the joys or rewards of being a husband for the full term of Mary’s pregnancy and of never being Jesus’ true father.
It’s a muddle, indeed. But wait! There is a miracle in the middle of this muddle. For thirty years, though he doesn’t know it, he will have the Son of God living and growing up in his care, entrusted to him. Before he can see all this though he responds to the angel in much the same way that Mary did. He believed and did according to what the angel had commanded him.
“Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.” Matt. 1:19-25
“Then Joseph…did as the angel of the Lord commanded him…”
Despite the muddle he did not hesitate to do what the angel had commanded. [Matthew 1:24-25]
When things we’ve planned, looked forward to, dreamed of, and hoped to realize in regular order and reasonable time become complicated and all muddled up, it’s wise to take a step back and get another perspective. It could be that God is working a greater blessing in and through us that we cannot see immediately but when it is revealed no amount of sacrifice delay or trouble that we experienced on the way can be compared to it. It could be that a miracle is in the making and we are being made a part of it.
For Joseph it was giving the Word his earthly name, being entrusted with the early childhood nurturing of Jesus, the Messiah and giving him the first imprint on his human soul of the law and the prophets, teaching him to work and to be faithful to God as a man of truth, integrity, strength and compassion. All this Joseph did before Jesus, as a man, was filled with the Holy Spirit being baptized by John in the Jordon.
Though we have no record of Jesus’s life from 12 years old to about 30, we can see in Jesus when He comes to John to be baptized that he is already walking in obedience to the Law of Moses and well acquainted with the prophets.
For all eternity Joseph will be directly linked with Jesus as His earthly Father.
What is your muddle today? Perhaps there is a miracle being worked in, worked with, worked for, and/or worked through you. Be patient and allow God to complete the work He is doing and trust His Word. Like Joseph you can lay aside your fear and just do what God has commanded you. Then, see the miracle unfold in its time.
To Zacharias, to Mary and now to Joseph the angel of the Lord said, “Do not be afraid…”
Today the Lord by the Holy Spirit is saying to us all, “Do not be afraid.” God hears our prayers. He answers our need and fulfills the desires of our hearts. He calls us to greatness and to what is impossible with men, but is always possible with God. He empowers us to work His will through us to the glory of His great name and the realization of His Kingdom’s purpose on the earth and in Heaven, forever.
Do not be afraid!
There is a miracle in the middle of your muddle. Let God reveal it in His time.
Today could be the day.