By Debra Whittington
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, 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. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-21, 24-25
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of
Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-31, 38
Every once in a while I experience a restless night. Sometimes I think the Lord wakes me in the middle of the night to get my attention because it is quiet. As I go about my busy routine during the daytime, I sometimes tune out the Lord. What better time for me to be quiet and listen than during the middle of the night.
Last night was one of those cases. I knew I had a column to write this morning so before I went to bed, I prayed that the Lord would direct me to write his message and not mine. As I drifted off to sleep, a number of ideas raced through my head and I counted ideas instead of sheep. Therefore, I wasn’t that surprised when I woke up wide-awake about 2 a.m. I tried to will myself back to sleep, but finally gave up when I realized the Lord had something to say.
For some reason the story of Joseph and his encounter with the angel of the Lord came to mind. It is evident that Joseph loved Mary very much or he wouldn’t consider having her put away to keep her from public shame. I imagine that he thought long and hard of ways to spare his beloved from pain and shame.
It was in the still of the night that the angel appeared to him and provided a way that was best for everyone involved. When he woke up the next morning, he was resolved and carried out the angel’s instructions.
Through Joseph’s actions in the following months, the Lord’s plans were carried to completion. Although he was only Jesus’ earthly father, the events of that night changed him forever as he was placed in charge of raising the Son of God.
Mary too was awoken in the night by an angel. Every Jewish girl dreamed of giving birth to the Messiah, but did Mary ever really believe it could happen to her? I can imagine her excitement over her betrothal to Joseph and maybe she was even dreaming about him when the angel suddenly awaked her. Evidently she was startled and afraid because the first thing the angel told her was not to fear.
Although Mary questioned the angel as to how she could give birth to the Messiah, she was willing to be the vessel to carry the Son of God. The angel told her that with God, nothing is impossible. Mary put her desires aside that night and trusted that the Lord’s plan would be accomplished.
Joseph and Mary are an example to all of us of how we should be willing to obey the Lord’s will despite how difficult it may seem. This Christmas, may we all give ourselves to the Lord and be willing to follow His leading.