Luke 1:26, 27 says that “the angel Gabriel was sent from God . . . to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
At this point in the story, there is definitely a charming story of a sweet young lady being espoused to a man of integrity in a small village in Israel. In the Jewish culture, espousal was more than just an engagement. An espoused couple was legally married; however, they would not yet be living together and the marriage would not be consummated. (Matthew 1:19 calls Joseph “her husband” and Matthew 1:20 calls Mary “thy wife” while they were only espoused.)
Joseph and Mary were living the dream of any couple who looked forward to building a home and a life together. They were looking forward to a wedding celebration sometime in the near future. It would be a joyous occasion of fellowship and feasting.
It is into this picturesque setting that the first unsettling detail is introduced. Matthew 1:18 tells us, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost.”
This would turn the charming life and plans of this couple upside down. There were major social implications. There would be no celebratory feast. There would be suspicion and doubt among their closest friends and family.
At first, even Joseph “was minded to put her away privily.” (Matthew 1:19)
So what was it that made Joseph and Mary continue on in the face of such seemingly plan-destroying news? It was simply faith in God’s word. In Luke 1:31, Mary is first given the earth-shattering announcement.
“Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.” Mary’s response in verse thirty-eight should be an example to every believer.
“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”
God’s word was all she needed to overlook every other obstacle around her.
Joseph’s response was ultimately the same. An angel told Joseph in a dream to continue with his plans to take Mary to himself. Matthew 1:24 says, “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.”
Once again, the word of the Lord was all he needed.
Every person who will, likewise, take God at his word can expect God to work in miraculous ways in his own life as well.
The Rev. Timothy Benefield is pastor of Golden Valley Baptist Church. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.