Summary: Part 2 focuses on Mary and Joseph response to God’s word while facing ridicule if they obeyed.
Do You Believe God’s Word As He Does Part 2
In my message two weeks ago I asked you the question “Do you believe God’s word as He does?” I shared with you three different examples from the Old Testament of how people responded directly to the word of God as spoken to them. If you recall, Abraham accepted God’s promise to him of a son without question. Sarah, upon hearing the promise, laughed within herself prompting the Lord to ask her if anything was impossible with God. My last example was Jonah, who when he heard God’s word, believed what God said and tried unsuccessfully to not fulfill what God had told him to do. Each of these individuals responded differently to God’s word. When I closed the message last week, I asked you to consider this question: “If Joseph, Mary’s husband, was alive today and was getting ready to marry someone who said they had been impregnated by God, would he be considered to be a fool?” This will be the focus of my message this morning.
I. The Betrothed (Engagement) Period
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows, when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:18
The engagement of a man and a woman was sealed when the prospective bridegroom gave a gift to the bride’s father. Mary was betrothed to Joseph. Betrothal in the Bible differs considerably from modern engagements. As an act of preliminary to marriage, betrothal implied a commitment almost as binding as marriage itself; its dissolution involved at least a formal divorce. The betrothed persons were referred to as “husband and wife” (Gen. 19:21; Matt. 1:20) and were to be completely faithful to each other. Any violation of the betrothed state was treated as adultery and could result in death for the offender (Deut. 22:23-25). At the time of Mary and Joseph’s betrothal, it called for a solemn oral commitment in the presence of witnesses with an added pledge of a piece of money or written pledge that would conclude with a benediction. The interval between betrothal and marriage under normal circumstances did not exceed twelve months. Mary and Joseph were in this state of their relationship. They were promised to each other with a solemn vow that if violated could potentially cause the offender to be put to death. Unlike our engagements today that can easily be called off, this was not the case with their betrothal. To get out of a betrothal, there had to be a reason and you had to go through a formal divorce. Now, sometime during this period of their relationship, Mary received a Word from the Lord. Turn to Luke 1.
II. Mary Responds To God’s Word
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:26-38
Mary was engaged to Joseph and now she was being visited by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel told her that she would conceive a child and that she would name the child Jesus. When Mary asked Gabriel how this was so as she was a virgin, Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would cause it to happen. After getting her one question answered, Mary said okay. Notice how quickly she answered. She accepted God’s word as fact and did not argue against it. I have often wondered if she thought about the impact of this after the angel left her. Remember, this would be viewed as a grave violation of her engagement to Joseph, her turning up pregnant. This could have gotten very bad for her because Joseph could have called for her to be stoned to death as an adulterer. Even if no charges were brought against her, everyone in the village would know that she had “messed around” on Joseph. I mean really, who ever heard of the “Holy Spirit” getting someone pregnant? Can you see the wives at their monthly meeting talking about the latest news – Mary committing adultery? And what about her family’s reputation? This would be a major embarrassment for her immediate family. Remember, by this time her parents would have already accepted the betrothal gift from Joseph so their reputation was on the line also. Mary had to have thought about what this would mean to her, yet she agreed. She accepted God’s word as fact and did not think twice about it. If you read the rest of the chapter you’ll find that Mary went to visit Elizabeth, one of her relatives, and shared with Elizabeth what the angel had said to her. Not only did she accept God’s word, she went out and told someone else. After talking with Elizabeth, she would face her next biggest hurdle, her family and Joseph. They were going to find out. Although she was engaged to Joseph, she did not necessarily know how he would respond. I believe she knew her family would support her, but possibly not Joseph.