Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

People of the Nativity – Day 5


Bible text(s)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. 19Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. 20While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived.

Matthew 1:18-20GNBOpen in Bible reader

We tend to talk a lot more about Mary than we do about Joseph. After all, he’s not Jesus’ biological father and we tend to think of him as the guy who made sure everyone got to Bethlehem.

Matthew’s account of the nativity includes a passage that gives us some insight into how Joseph might have experienced that first Christmas. Here’s a man who hears his fiancée confess to him that she’s pregnant. Furthermore, she tells him she conceived by the Holy Spirit. People in first-century Palestine knew, as well as we do, how babies are made and Joseph wasn’t buying her story. Would you?

I imagine Joseph lying awake at night heartbroken, disappointed, angry and considering his options. Considering the situation, Joseph had all rights to divorce her. The Jewish authorities could have stoned her to death (Deuteronomy 22:23,24). Joseph must have loved Mary dearly, because he decided to break off the engagement quietly so shame would not be brought upon her.

But then God enters the scene. When an angel of the Lord speaks, in a dream, to Joseph about the identity of Jesus, Joseph doesn’t hesitate to change his plans and marry Mary (Matthew 1:21). Mary knew for sure, but Joseph believed the impossible with only a dream and Mary’s word.

Joseph teaches us to stand strong when things are difficult and to faithfully obey even when we don’t understand. He shows us how to continue in faith when it would be far more convenient to do our own thing.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
Find us on