Gabriel visits Joseph (18-12-21)
Bible Reading: Matthew 1:18-24
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about:
His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 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."
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took Mary home as his wife.
I’ve been asked to organise a number of events in my time, from training courses in my employment prior to ordination, to family weddings, to events in the local church. Keeping tabs on all the different jobs, dotting ‘i’s and crossing ‘t’s, and trying to make sure you haven’t overlooked an important detail, is all part of the process.
As God was planning his major initiative for the salvation of the world he was bringing all the important elements into play at the right time, and Gabriel was involved as his go-to messenger. He had visited Zechariah about the birth of John the Baptist, then Mary about the conception of Jesus and now he is getting Joseph on board.
The news of Mary’s pregnancy gave Joseph a major dilemma. Mary was betrothed to him but the child she was carrying was not his. The law said he could have her stoned to death for adultery, but his love for her wanted to find another way, and a quiet divorce seemed like a good compromise. But neither option was God’s plan. The choice for Joseph was one that would echo through the rest of the New Testament, the choice between law and grace.
When faced with difficult decisions our initial choice is often to go with the way we were taught, the way we have always done it, the way everyone else does it. When this is uncomfortable we may look for a compromise. But God is not the God of compromise and he will always have a better way. A way that honours God and fulfils his purposes. A way of love. A way of faith.
Are there situations where your default position is more about law than it is about grace? Can you bring those times to God and seek his way forward? We may not be visited by an angel, but we do have the scriptures and the Holy Spirit to guide us, and we do have the wisdom of our Christian brothers and sisters who are walking a similar path. You may be surprised at God’s answer; it may be costly in terms of your pride, but it will be a way of blessing for others and for yourself.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your grace that reaches out to me.
Help me to reach out to those around me with that same grace.
This is amazing grace