Joseph and the Angel

“…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.”                    Matthew 1:20

Hey, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the birth of Jesus?  We usually focus on Mary.  We can’t even begin to imagine what a holy taste of heaven she must have glimpsed when the angel Gabriel announced to her that she would be the mother of the long awaited Messiah.

(In a recent post, “Are You Ready for Christmas?” I talked about how God’s angels prepare the way for Christ’s appearing, but I wanted to expand on some of the ideas just a bit.)

For me, the crucial part of the story of Jesus’ birth is that the angels always prepare the way for what God, the Divine Choreographer, plans to do.  Have you ever stopped to think how Mary would have felt when she discovered she was pregnant if Gabriel had not told her what was going to happen?

But God did prepare her.

So here’s Mary, not just with the glow of impending motherhood that so often comes with pregnancy, but with a sacred realization that prophecy is being fulfilled through her.

But now think of the conversation she must have had with Joseph.  As much as he loved her, he really did not believe her story.  He was deciding how to put her away since, in his mind, she must have committed adultery.

Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes, or sandals rather.

How would you feel if your espoused wife comes back pregnant after a three month visit with her cousin?  You can hardly blame him for acting the way he did.  But Joseph is part of the plan too and God sends an angel to him in a dream to calm his fear, explain what is going on and what role he will play in God’s plan.  It wasn’t enough for the angel to appear to Mary.  Joseph needed his own angel.

I think that too often we don’t give Joseph enough credit for his part in this divine series of events which led up to Jesus’ birth.  He had a vital role to play and if he hadn’t done his part, things could have gotten pretty complicated and Mary would not have had his much needed support.  It took an amazing amount of humility on Joseph’s part, to accept what was taking place.  But he did!  He was faithful to what God revealed through the angel before and after Jesus’ birth.

I love this story because it shows how God fulfills prophecy and how He sends His angels to prepare the hearts of those He has chosen to work through.

How does this story apply to you?

The beauty of the Bible is that even though the events took place thousands of years ago, the lessons are still just as true and applicable today as they were then.

Have you ever had a friend who “saw an angel” or had a “divine experience” that seemed a bit unbelievable or even wacko?  Or maybe you had a spiritual experience that one of your friends just can’t swallow.

There’s just no way you can humanly convince the other person that an angel comes to you.  So you really don’t even need to try.  If God wants someone else to be involved in what he’s revealing to you, He will communicate it clearly.  He’s the one who sends the angels.  You don’t.  He’s been doing it for thousands of years and knows exactly how to do it.  You can trust that.

Angels come in many different ways.  Sometimes it’s the coo of a dove, the still small voice in our heart, an innocent remark made by a child, a friend or stranger appearing at just the right moment with just the thing we need.  Sometimes, it’s a quick kick in the derrière.  But it is always God communicating His love to us in a way that we can see and accept.

When God sends an angel to you…

… do everything you can to be obedient to what He tells you.  And if it seems like God is asking you to do something simple that puts you in a supporting role instead of  in the spotlight, remember Joseph who graciously accepted the role God assigned to him.

As always, I ‘d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this subject.  Just add your comments in the box below.  Or if you are on the home page, there’s a little header at the top of the article that says, “comments.”  Just click on that.

Christmas blessings to you,

James