Summary: The first Christmas came with disappointment. When Joseph heard the words, "Mary is pregnant," he must have felt the disappointment you and I have felt. But God had a message for Joe! And he has one for your disappointment too!
SERIES: HOW CHRISTMAS HEALS OUR HURTS
A few years ago, I was approached by the leadership of a small group Melissa and I were in. They had questions and concerns regarding choices Melissa and I were making, specifically, Melissa’s working outside of the home (as a woman) and my not earning the majority of the finances (as a man). There was also a question of why it seemed we didn’t share about ourselves in this group. We felt questioned, attacked, invalidated and hurt. To say the least, we were disappointed in our friends since we had trusted them. We had spent many evenings fellowshipping together, and this was such a blind-sided blow to us, we didn’t know what we were going to do or what was going to happen.
The Bible speaks to life’s disappointments, even in the story of Christmas. With the words, “…but before they came together, she was found to be with child…”
In the Jewish culture, for a man and a woman to become husband and wife they had to go through three stages:
1) The pre-arrangement = parents & terms
2) The betrothal = 1 year waiting period that was as strong and binding as marriage itself.
3) The marriage = the groom leaves his home to go and get his bride and in a community processional, the two become one in ceremony and then back to his home where it is consummated physically.
During the betrothal stage, the bride and groom have an entire year to… think, wonder, pray, laugh, be scared, and dream about their wedding day over and over again. They wonder what each other will look like on that day. They are not to see each other so they send letters via friends back and forth. “Will he like me?” “Will she think I am handsome? Will she like the place I have made for her?” “Will he think I am pretty? How many children will we have?”
The one year waiting period’s purpose was a discovery process to learn of the woman’s virtue. If she was faithful and a virgin, the one year testing time would reveal it.
During that year, Matthew records these words, “…but before they came together, she was found to be with child…”
Could you imagine what disappointment Joseph had come to his heart? One could wonder what the words, “Mary is pregnant!” must have come like to his hopes and dreams.
Some of you have felt the weight of such words. Perhaps when you heard your teen say, “I’m pregnant,” or heard your spouse say, “I don’t love you any more, I’m leaving you,” or heard one of your parents say, “I won’t be able to see you for some time.” And those words hit like a sledgehammer.
Joseph felt the words upon his heart of disappointment. That first Christmas came with disappointments, but it also came with deliverance.
With the words, “Mary is pregnant,” not only came disappointment, but questions.
Joseph was lef to ask, "What about Mary?" Her story was too remarkable to believe. Joseph loved her, but the pregnancy without another man story was just too much for him to believe. Was she pregnant or wasn’t she?
So what was Joseph to do about it? He contemplated and planned and re-planned what he should do. He could marry her and bring disgrace to himself. He could go public with the divorce and turn her over to the officials who would kill her for her sin of unfaithfulness. He could also refuse to marry her, and divorce her, but do it honorably and lovingly by not going public. And this is what he was thought he would do.