I remember my wedding day like it was yesterday. There was so much anticipation surrounding that day. My husband and I couldn’t wait to see one another. We longed to spend extended time one-on-one together on our honeymoon, without the noise and busyness of life. I actually had a headache at the end of the night from smiling all day long.
Have you ever anticipated something like that—where you just couldn’t wait to see it, receive it, get it, enjoy it? If so, have you ever then found that what you were excited about didn’t turn out exactly like what you had wished for? What if it even turned out to be shameful?
I imagine Joseph had similar excited feelings as he anticipated taking his bride Mary. He and his wife would become one—something he likely longed for. But Joseph was in for a surprise.
After Mary was betrothed (legally pledged to be married) to Joseph but before they consummated their marriage, she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit (Matt.1:18). Can you imagine? Surprise, we’re having a baby! Oh, and it’s not yours…
Joseph felt like any other man would: confused and ready to end the commitment to his soon-to-be bride. The potential difference between Joseph and others was that he was a loving and thoughtful man. The Scriptures say that he was a just man and would not put Mary to shame and resolved to divorce her quietly (Matt. 1:19). But the Lord brought an angel to help Joseph understand Mary’s remarkable pregnancy.
An angel appeared in his dream to share who this baby was and to encourage him not to fear (Matt 1:20-21). Joseph was reminded by the angel of what the prophet Isaiah had prophesied about Jesus: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (Matt. 1:23).
That changed everything! Joseph was made aware that he was part of this awesome covenant the Lord had made with his people. He would be a part of the story that would forever change history and would be the legal earthly father of the great High Priest (Mark 1:16). Joseph did as the Lord commanded him and took his wife, but did not consummate the marriage until Jesus was born (Matt 1:24-25). We know from the gospels that Jesus did consider Joseph as his earthly father and even obeyed him (Luke 2:39-52).
I imagine the great anticipation for Joseph changed once he realized his wife, Mary, would have a child who would save the world. Anticipation for a bride would transform into anticipation for a son—the Son!
Joy in Immanuel
The Advent season is coming. It’s not just another holiday to check off the box. This yearly ritual can feel like just another thing. But this year can be different. This Advent season, we can join Joseph in great anticipation for the Son! The season of waiting may not look as we hoped—Joseph wouldn’t have hoped for a pregnant bride—but the gift we anticipate is worth every minute of our longing.
We don’t have to wait for an angel to appear to speak truth to us, we have God’s Word and we know the end of the story. Let’s anticipate with great hope and joy—joy in the Immanuel.