Advent Week 4
Advent Week 4
All of the sentimental stylings of American Christmas celebrations have washed out the scandal of Christmas. In week 2 of our series we looked at some of the ramifications of Mary’s pregnancy in her social network. You can only imagine that her family and friends found her pregnancy story less than believable and assumed the far more plausible explanation of infidelity. Even Joseph, her betrothed husband, couldn’t believe it. This week we’ll look at his initial reaction, God’s divine intervention, and how all this applies to us.
Upon discovering Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph resolved to divorce her quietly. You imagine his hurt, his disappointment, even his anger over the situation. Levitical law dictated that the punishment for Mary’s adultery was public stoning. In Joseph’s time this was a relatively rare occurrence, but nevertheless, Joseph decided to not publicly shame Mary by simply ending their betrothal. In this we can see Joseph’s kindness along with his mix of emotions.
And yet God intervened by sending an angel to reveal the true origin of Mary’s pregnancy. Interestingly, the angel tells Joseph not to “fear” taking Mary as his wife. Joseph was likely afraid of a number of things here: the social stigma of Mary’s pregnancy before marriage, the chance that Mary was crazy, or that maybe, just maybe, God was coming into their lives in an unimaginable way. The angel speaks to Joseph’s fear and reveals to him that Mary’s unborn child is the long-awaited Savior, encouraging him to press on in faithfulness.
As an aside, note that verse 23 points to yet another prophecy fulfilled by the birth of Jesus. In week 1 of our Advent series we saw this pattern of Matthew’s focus on Jesus’ prophetic fulfillment. What Joseph didn’t realize was that he was a tiny part of that fulfillment. He helped bring the Son of God into the world in tiny Bethlehem, he raised him as his own Son, and he lead him in faithful worship and scriptural instruction (Luke 2:41). Like we talked about with Mary in week 3, this announcement from the angel changed everything about Joseph’s life. He was called up into the movement of God, even when he was terrified, and gave up everything to be faithful to the one who called him.
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read Matthew 1:18-25 for us?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• Why do you think the angel specifically mentioned Joseph’s fear in verse 20? What do you think he was afraid of?
• Why do you think obeying God is sometimes a scary thing?
• How has God shown himself to be worthy of you facing down these fears?
• How can this passage inform the way you worship Jesus this Advent?