Sometimes, things in life do not turn out the way you have planned them. Have you ever felt like that? You made some great plans and God stepped in and changed them. There may be no truer example of this than in the life of a young Jewish couple, Joseph and Mary.
This couple was engaged, planning to be married, when something rather dramatic happens in their life. In order to understand their story, we have to realize that their engagement was not like engagements in our culture. They were officially committed to each other. They would have already gone through one ceremony with some friends and family and have been legally bound to each other. The only way to break this engagement would have been through divorce. It might be best to think of them as legally married, just they did not live with each other and had not yet consummated their marriage.
In the gospel of Luke, we read about the birth of Jesus through Mary's perspective. But in Matthew, we are told through the lens of Matthew. We are told that they were engaged and Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant. I cannot imagine the emotions that he must have felt at that moment. Betrayed. Hurt. Of course, as we read the account, we know that she is pregnant from unusual measures. But Joseph does not know that until the angel comes to visit him.
Because he does not know, he makes plans to divorce her. But his love for Mary moves him to divorce her quietly. He could have made a public display of her. He could have humiliated her. One thing I really learned as I studied this is how gracious Joseph is to his wife. He does not over react to the news. He responds with patience and godliness. And ultimately, he is planning on responding with what is best for Mary. It made me wonder how my marriage would be different if I responded in life to my wife with patience and godliness while thinking through what is best for her. I have a feeling it would change our marriage!
But then the angel intervenes and tells him the real story. Their thoughts of a perfect wedding day have been changed. Instead, God has a much bigger plan for them. The angel tells Joseph that the baby is actually going to be the Messiah and Joseph is going to name him Jesus. This is very significant. It was customary for the father of the baby to name the child. When Joseph takes the boy that is born to Mary and names him, he is in effect adopting Jesus as his child. This event brings Jesus into the royal line to the throne.
The greatest part of this passage are the two names that are give to this baby boy. The name "Jesus" is the Greek version of Joshua, which means "Yahweh Saves." While the name of Jesus is often defamed and used as a swearword, it should be used as a lifeline. The other name is found in the prophecy that is fulfilled from Isaiah 7:14. The name "Immanuel" means "God with us." It is to signify that God is now dwelling among man. There are many names for the baby that is born to Mary, but I may argue that these two summarize His purpose in coming to this earth. God came to dwell among man to save them from their sins.