We are taking a special Journey this Advent season; we are walking the road to Bethlehem with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and others, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, and open our hearts to welcome Christ into our lives in a new and special way this Christmas. We’ve talked about Mary’s willingness to follow God’s will, even though it would take her through what would certainly be many trying circumstances. Mary was a humble servant who willingly said to God, “Here I am, use me. May it be with me according to your will” (Luke 1:38).
Like Mary, Joseph faced a situation where he was willing to change his plans, submitting himself to the will of God, with mercy and compassion.
During this time marriage vows were made at the betrothal, and the law required that only death or divorce could end them. The betrothal usually lasted about a year, then the husband and wife could live together and have a physical union. It was during this time that Mary became pregnant, which was punishable by death. And Joseph knew he was not the father.
Joseph had choices (Matthew 1:19):
- Break the engagement: public disgrace and punishment by death
- Claim child as his own: punishment for breaking marital laws
- Quietly divorce Mary: save face and save Mary’s life
Joseph chose mercy and compassion over the law of retribution:
- God “desires mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6)
Godly righteousness is seen in Joseph’s compassion for Mary
God’s plans are better than man’s:
- Submitting to God’s will led Joseph in an unexpected direction (Matthew 1:20-21)
Open the door of love and mercy, and God will march through in a big way
God offers hope for the future:
- Hope is found through our Savior, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21)
- Immanuel—God with us—means that we are never alone (Matthew 1:23)
Jesus Christ is a sign that we are not alone, that God himself is with us.
How do you show love to those that don’t seem to deserve it?
How can you be obedient this season?