In an attempt to keep fresh in my mind what Christmas is truly about, I recently read through the Christmas story in Luke and Matthew. I really gave some thought to who Joseph and Mary were and what qualities they had as human beings that would allow God to choose them to raise His son.
God could have chosen any set of parents at any point in history. What did He see in them?
Mary, was a young girl who was engaged to be married. So, she had the same plans of other girls her age. She had remained pure. She was a virgin. She didn’t appear to be some highly gifted spiritual thinker. She was courageous. The scripture says she was troubled, not terrified at the news of her pregnancy and she asked the angel how it could be possible. But, after Gabriel explained it, she was obedient.
I can’t imagine what the conversation must have been like between Mary and her parents or between Mary and Joseph. “Umm, you’re not going to believe this, but and angel told me that I’m pregnant with God’s son.”
We don’t know if her parents believed her. We do know Joseph didn’t.
But, still, Joseph appeared to be a man of character and mercy. He could have had Mary stoned in the public square. He believed she had been with another man. If he were a prideful man or a vengeful man, he would have immediately had his justice. The law was on his side. But, I suspect he was a humble man and he was willing to extend mercy to Mary. While he wasn’t interested in raising another man’s child and he didn’t believe her story, he was going to divorce her quietly.
But, his plans changed when he too, was visited by an angel in a dream that confirmed Mary’s story. When he awoke, he did just as he was commanded and married her. Joseph, too, was obedient to God’s plan.
When I think about these two people who raised God’s son, I see some similar traits in both. They were both people of faith who believed in God and His plan. They were both willing to be obedient to His plan, even though I’m sure the neighbors were talking. After all, they went from planning a wedding shower to a baby shower in no time flat and the baby wasn’t even Joseph’s. Yet, Joseph and Mary were obedient, no matter the cost.
Joseph’s strong character, humility and his ability to show mercy were also strong traits in Jesus. I doubt that is simply coincidence.
As I think about God’s choice of earthly parents for Jesus, I wonder if we shouldn’t all try to follow their example. They were people of strong faith who were willing to believe what was humanly impossible was possible with God. They believed in God’s plan and were obedient to His calling, no matter the cost to them personally. That took courage. They were humble people who didn’t run around telling people they were raising the son of God. After all, they spent the early years of Jesus’ life hiding out in Egypt.
As we come towards the Advent, surely there’s a lesson for us from Mary and Joseph. After all, they were average people just like us, who were chosen to do something world-changing by God.
Perhaps it’s a good time for us to take a leap of faith of some kind and to remember the importance of humility, mercy and obedience. I’ve no doubt that God would like to use each one of us too.
Have an awesome day!