An Angel Visits Joseph
Open Your Bible
Matthew 1:18-25, Isaiah 11:1-9
BY Erin Davis
Section 3: The Light Dawns
As I consider Joseph’s role in the Christmas story, I’m inspired by how quickly he responded to the Lord. Sure, he got an angelic visitation, but the angel’s words were fairly clinical. As Joseph hit his REM cycle, the angel told him to marry Mary because the baby in her belly was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Then he left before the Q&A, passing over some pretty major details.
“She will give birth to a son,” the angel said. “Name him Jesus.” But wait! Aren’t there other questions to answer? “What does a Holy Spirit conceived child look like?” “When will He be born?” “Why me, Lord?”
The angel dropped the most perplexing statement of all, “You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This is the gospel. The Savior of the world was well on His way. But Joseph couldn’t have fully understood what the angel meant. He couldn’t have fathomed what would be required for Jesus to save us from the sin that sentences us each to death. Still, Scripture tells us “when Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him” (v.24). All he had was a handful of facts. There must have been dozens of details he couldn’t figure out. Yet God said it, and he would do it.
I don’t reckon his faith was forged in a single night. That kind of trust doesn’t typically develop in an instant. Scripture doesn’t tell us, but I suspect Joseph had learned to respond to faith in the humdrum of everyday life. When the angel of the Lord appeared with a few unbelievable details, Joseph was already prepared to obey.
The Christmas story is filled with the stories of those who trusted and obeyed. From a young virgin, to a field of shepherds, to a caravan of wise men, to a young man engaged to the Savior’s momma. I’m confident they all had more questions than answers. They also responded in faith rather than being controlled by fear.
We won’t be called to marry Jesus’s mother. Our assignment is not to name and raise the Savior of the world. But we all have to mind the gap—the gap between the facts we have been given and responding in faith. As we open our eyes each morning, may the matter be settled in our hearts: we will choose to trust the Lord.