Year A – Advent 4 – Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew 1:18–25 – Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Summary – Joseph was a saint, not least because he accepted the word of this angel on the matter – in a dream, no less! Clearly Joseph was a man who accepted the word of God without demanding undue evidence. We don’t know much about Joseph, but he seemingly lived up to his name-sake, the Joseph of Genesis who saw visions, but endured difficult days before seeing the blessing of God. So in this case Joseph was willing to believe, in spite of the natural order. What we do know from this text about his character is that he was “a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” This was the kind of guy that believed his fiance had been unfaithful, but was still willing to give her an easy way out. By law he could have had her killed! This speaks to Joseph’s character.

Insight – Perhaps the most important word that Joseph received in this dream is, “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” This clearly resonated with Joseph, who was apparently waiting for just such a Savior. Faithful Jews were waiting for their Messiah. Joseph was among them. All the world has been awaiting for Something or Someone to deal with sin. As it turned out, it was through this teen-aged pregnancy, this heart-broken fiance, this Nazarene. God accomplished His redemptive plan in an usual way. The story of God’s redemption surprises us all.

Discussion – Even if you have not talked to an angel in a dream, have you ever believed that God wanted you to do something special? What did you do?

Prayer – O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP St Joseph)

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