The more you delve into the Christmas story the more shocking it becomes.
Bryan has been studying Matthew 1 recently so we’ve been talking about the first Christmas, and I’m always amazed at how different it would have been for them then we usually imagine.
For instance, this would not have been an easy decision for either Mary or Joseph. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about their struggles although it hints at them. Do you realize this would have almost certainly destroyed both Mary and Joseph’s reputations among their families, friends, and even in their hometown? Truthfully, if someone came to us today and said “this is God’s baby!” we wouldn’t believe them either. It happened once, it’s not happening again. And for the world at that time it hadn’t even happened once so you can appreciate how so few would believe Mary.
On top of that, it was the custom that when a man found his wife to have been unfaithful he had to divorce her because of the HUGE insult this was to him and his family. Essentially the woman is declaring that her husband was not man enough for her and she needed to find someone else to satisfy her.
Now, Mary and Joseph were betrothed so they were basically seen as married in EVERY sense except one. They hadn’t had the marriage ceremony so they had not consummated their relationship.
When it comes out that Mary’s pregnant what’s the first thought? Joseph how could you!
And the ONLY way for Joseph to publicly prove/show he’s not the father is to divorce Mary.
And let’s not forget the family. Joseph’s family would come under fire/shame for having arranged this marriage to a dishonorable woman in the first place.
Joseph really had one option – divorce. That would restore some of his family’s lost honor and acknowledge that he’s not involved with Mary’s pregnancy.
But let’s give Joseph some credit here. His original plan was to divorce her (after all he’s very aware this isn’t his baby), BUT he plans to do it quietly. This is actually quite kind. He’s trying to protect Mary from as much shame as he can. Joseph wasn’t being a creep; he was an amazing man in a very hard circumstance. I have a lot of respect for Joseph.
But, Joseph doesn’t divorce Mary. He continues with the betrothal. And what do you think it says to the community when he agrees to marry this pregnant woman? In their eyes the only reason he would marry her is because he was responsible for her pregnancy and he was at least man enough to take care of them. And the shame this would bring on him and his family is enormous.
And this is the way God chose for His Son to be born. This is the King of kings! The One who was there at the creation of the world, amidst shame, dishonor, suspicion and probably some hurt and confusion. This is not the way I would have done things! And yet both Mary and Joseph chose to be obedient. And I think they still found many reasons to bless God. And, I think if they could talk to us today both would say they were more than blessed even in the midst of the struggle!
Because although He’s a God that rarely makes sense to my little mind, He is still a good and faithful God.
I don’t know what your Christmas season holds today but I can tell you one thing – it doesn’t surprise or shock God. He has seen it all. He knows it all. And He is still God in control of it all. And that is a reason to rejoice no matter what.