Many have had to make tough decisions this Christmas.
Joseph struggled, painfully so, with a decision he had to make.
He was known for his uncompromising obedience to the Law of Moses.
Mary had been secretly carrying this miraculous conception for some time, for at least 3 months. That’s how long she had stayed with her cousin Elizabeth also pregnant, with John. For 3 months she was away from Joseph. Enough time for anything to happen and for Joseph enough time for her to be outrageously sinful.
Can you imagine that meeting when Mary arrives back into Nazareth?
Mary was telling the truth and Joseph was holding to the truth of the Torah.
When both parties know the truth then the decision becomes so tough.
The marriage was over that’s what he knew. That’s the first decision. Not wanting to risk the public shame and destruction this would bring to Mary who he had loved and still cared for was the second decision. Finding a way to quietly divorce her was the third decision.
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “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.” (Matthew 1 v 20-21)
Why did God do it this way? Why didn’t he send angel Gabriel to Joseph in those earlier days also? He could have done. He chose not to and it made things so much more difficult. Why did He wait for Joseph to stressfully work through the decisions? Why didn’t He send the angel sooner?
There are lots of times in our lives when we wonder why God didn’t when He could have done and why He did when He didn’t have to. It feels like God is making life hard for us.
That night, Joseph goes to sleep and in a dream he has an encounter with an angel who tells him basically everything that Mary had told him.
It is during that dream that we discover why Joseph struggled with the tough decisions and it indicates why we do also. It is fear.
Most probably fear of losing his reputation. What will people think?
Most probably fear of letting God down. It wasn’t only what man thought but what would God think of him? He had been known for holding to the Law of Moses. Now he was trapped. Mary needed judgment but how could he be the one to expose her? And if he didn’t expose her then he would not be holding to the Torah.
Fear will prevent us making the right decisions.
Joseph take Mary as your wife, into your home.
Joseph believe what Mary has told you.
Joseph this son is not yours, it is of the Holy Spirit.
Joseph you must act like his father and name him as any parent would.
Joseph you need to believe in this son’s destiny of salvation.
At some point Joseph will wake up from the dream and the tough decisions will have to be made. Anyone can decide within a dream. But it is when we wake we decide faith or fear. What will you decide today?