“I am with Child.”
How did those words fall upon the ears and heart of Joseph? Imagine the questions he must have asked and the answers Mary gave him.
Betrothal was a sacred right, an agreement and covenant arrived at and legally sealed between two families. Joseph had entered into the process of preparing a place for Mary, for him, and for children.
When the wedding day came, he would go and bring her home. A new family would begin, according the Word of the Lord: “… a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
“I am with Child.”
Everything was different now that he heard this news. Joseph and Mary resided in a tiny village in the northern part of Judea. There were perhaps 400 people living there at the time.
The news of Mary’s untimely pregnancy circulated. The gossip ran thick. Joseph wanted to make a quiet end of things. He was known as merciful and just. Mary’s life was hard enough already. He was of no mind to add to the burden she already bore.
He determined to dissolve the marriage contract and move on with his life. A carpenter used to slow and meticulous work with wood and stone, Joseph did nothing hastily. He pondered his course of action. He prayed and decided to sleep on it.
And then Joseph dreamed.
It was a holy dream complete with a visitation and some instructions. An angel of the Lord brought this counsel: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
“Joseph, Son of David.”
That designation stood, and still stands, as one of the highest among all designations of the people descended from the patriarchs of Israel — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This common carpenter in Nazareth was of the royal family of Israel.
Matthew began his gospel with a detailed birth record of the Messiah: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham. …” The angel’s first message to Joseph was given to set his mind upon his true identity.Jesus and Joseph were related — both were sons of David. He shared a bloodline with the Baby in the womb of the woman he was to take as his bride. Click To Tweet
Jesus and Joseph were related — both were sons of David. He shared a bloodline with the Baby in the womb of the woman he was to take as his bride.
“Do not fear.”
These were the next words delivered to Joseph. His world had been thrown into much turmoil and he was still trying to process his and Mary’s situation.
“Do not fear.”
This phrase or a variation of it appears 366 times in the Scriptures. The late Romanian pastor and preacher Richard Wurmbrand liked to point this out, for he was arrested and jailed by the communist government on February 29, the leap day of a leap year. “Fear not is told to us 366 times — enough times to even cover the extra day that only comes every four years,” Wurmbrand testified.
“Do not fear to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. You shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
Mary carried the fruit of the Holy Spirit in her, Joseph was told. Further, the angel informed Joseph that the Son to be born to her was to be given a particular Name — Jesus.
Yeshua in the Hebrew, Jesus was something of an ordinary and oft-used name among the Jews for it means “Yahweh saves.” Every son born among the chosen people was looked on with the expectation of the coming of Yeshua, the Salvation of Israel. With the announcement of “It’s a boy” also came this question to every Jewish mother and father: Could this be the One?
This Boy, this Son of David, was the One. And He is the One, the God Who Saves.
Marry Mary and call the Baby “Jesus.” These were plain instructions, and Joseph would follow them and more.
In the Proverbs, we are instructed this way: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6).
It is the lazy, the procrastinator, the scoffer and scorner, who wait for bright lights to shine down on them. They are the ones who demand a sign. Jesus says these ones will not get one.
We can read through the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles and see that “high places” – the shrines on the hills were popular with people. They thought places of elevation had magic to them.
It is the devil, the enemy, who disguises his ways by raising false hopes and using false light. It is he who advertises and promotes the high and the mighty, the bright and the shiny.
The Lord bids us to look to another kind of hill, to the ant hill. See the small one carrying the crumbs to feed the colony, the family, the workers, and the queen.
“Go to the ant.” Get to the ground level of things. Go below the surface.
Before Pilate, when He faced the question “What is Truth?” Jesus could have blown up the whole scene with legions of the heavenly host. He could have demonstrated a fresh Transfiguration and flooded the place with His Glory.
Instead, the Son gave Himself to the Cross and to the wages of Sin. He gave Himself to Death and the Grave. He gave Himself to the low path that led to Redemption, a road that started with Him being given to the home of a regular working man.
Joseph was like the ant. He purposed to carry this weight. He was a given a dream to help him. A marvelous secret was revealed to this simple, faithful man. The presence of the Lord would be with him.
The common people hear Him gladly. And it is to them God trusts the visions of beauty and wonder and mercy and hope.
The farmer and the gardener know the power of laying seeds in the earth. A waterman cracks open an oyster and treasures the pearl he sometimes finds.
Yes, the One had come to Joseph, to Mary his betrothed. The overshadowing of the Holy Spirit brought Messiah – Jesus – to earth in the womb of this virgin.
And so Joseph woke up to do the work of God given to him.
Joseph took Mary as his bride, in spite of the scandal surrounding her. Their relationship was not consummated until after the birth of Jesus. This couple’s honeymoon had to wait.
This carpenter would get her safely to Bethlehem and the manger. He would comfort Mary and serve to witness the agony and ecstasy of welcoming an infant into this world. This son of David rejoiced to see the Son of David.
Joseph heard the story of the shepherds – another bunch of ants really. They told of the messenger and the angel choir they saw in the sky. He took Jesus with Mary to the Temple in Jerusalem for dedication and circumcision on the eighth day according to the Law of Moses.
There, he marveled to hear the testimonies and forecasts for the Child from Simeon and Anna. These were great words that related the salvation of Israel embodied in this Baby.
And when harm was purposed against this Son and all infant boys in the region, Joseph dreamed again and hurried the Child away to Egypt and to safety. Eventually, this family would settle back in Nazareth, the Son would grow in grace and stature with God and among men.
Others would be born to Joseph and Mary. The rest of the story of this man’s life is hidden from us. But this we know, Joseph believed God and also let it be unto him according to His Word. He walked humbly and faithfully through his days.
Let us be like Joseph, and let us go to the ant. Let us not take the seemingly small, daily things of life for granted. Number every day and see the purpose of God in it. Who knows? A great dream may come to you! He does give His beloved sleep for a reason after all.
Crumbs do fall from the Master’s table to us every day. Let’s be like the ant and purpose not waste any of them.