Monday, December 11, 2017

The Incredible

Based on Matthew 1:1-24

“‘I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore…and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:16-18) 

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) 

     The promise came to Abraham first, and was passed down, generation to generation. From father to son, mother to daughter, year after year after year. From kings to servants, farmers to field hands, notorious sinners to courageous heroes, until finally it passed to a young engaged couple. “Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit” (v. 18).

     Mary. What was she to do? She knew her story seemed implausible, a farce made up to appease the scrutiny of her community. But she knew the truth—and the truth was unbelievable. She could understand why her family and friends had trouble accepting her account. But their disbelief still caused her pain, especially when she told her beloved Joseph the news. His hurt and disappointment were unbearable.
     Yet, she had done no wrong. When the angel visited her and told her she was the chosen mother of the Messiah, she believed. She did not understand the details, but she did know it was a great honor and was startled to learn the Almighty One noticed her at all, let alone considered her worthy of such a responsibility.
     How could she say no? Even though the difficult consequences of her decision loomed before her, she knew she made the right decision. She said yes to God. She would be the mother to the Savior. The virgin with child.
     Joseph. He wasn’t the first man to discover his fiancée was unfaithful. One moment all was well, the wedding plans running smoothly and on schedule. The next he was trying to grasp the obvious. His betrothed, Mary, was with child and he was not the father.
     It was unexpected, unthinkable. He thought he knew his bride-to-be. He trusted her. His plans and dreams included her as his wife and future mother of his children. The news of her pregnancy put those plans to an abrupt end.
     He knew he could punish Mary for her infidelity. The law would allow his vengeance if he chose to make her pay for the betrayal. Her life was in his hands. And yet, he still loved her and he was not a cruel man. So he decided to quietly end their relationship without retaliation, choosing to forgive instead of expose.
     But then an angel appeared in the night. Startled by its presence, he wondered, what brought such an extraordinary messenger here to see him? The angel spoke, “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. 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” (vv. 20-21). It was just as Mary had said. He should have believed her! She was faithful to him, true, and obedient to the Lord.
     At daybreak Joseph wasted no time in renewing his pledge to her “and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus” (v. 24).

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