After the angel Gabriel visited Mary—and after the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary—Joseph must have been a confused man. We read that, not willing to make her [Mary] a public example, [he] was minded to put her away secretly. (Mt. 1:19b KJV)
Scripture also says, But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Mt. 1:20)
This was not a standard dream, but Joseph accepted the strange supernatural message about a strange supernatural event. He changed his plans and was obedient to God's Word. The Bible tells us, being raised from sleep [he] did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. (1:24)
Joseph's troubles were just beginning. The road ahead included the trip to Bethlehem with Mary giving birth to the baby in a stable. Then, when Herod threatened to kill the Christ, the angel spoke again. This time Joseph took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt. (2:14b) Because he did not know how long they would be gone, his plans could only be incomplete.
Throughout the infancy and childhood of Jesus, Joseph played a key role in a deadly struggle. God selected this complex man to fulfill a huge task. It was the hour of his visitation.
Originally published December 17, 1982 and December 16, 1988.
Picture: Viewed from the street, Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.