Another Angel Encounter

By Marcy Barthelette

Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means, “God is with us.”

Matthew 1:23 NLT (God’s prophet had spoken)

Mary, how could you do this to me, to us? And now you expect me to believe you haven’t slept with another man, that somehow you just found yourself pregnant? Come on, I understand the science of how this happens. I even know how emotions can run away with us into territory we didn’t intend to explore. Or if someone attacked you and this pregnancy is a result, then tell me. Maybe we can work our way through it. But, please, don’t insult my intelligence with   some incredible story of an immaculate conception. I’m just not buying it.

This is a mild version of what might happen today if an intended bride informed her fiancé about a pregnancy of spiritual origin. Anger, disappointment, maybe even a little revenge are but a few of the emotions a man might feel when confronted with this news. And surely, disbelief would top the list. How could anyone expect a man to fall for such an outrageous story as the one young Mary shared with Joseph?

Perhaps he thought: “How could she think, even in her wildest imagination, that I, a respected man in this community, would consider even for a moment the possibility that our plans for marriage could continue. No, I just can’t do it. I can’t face the humiliation of all my friends and colleagues learning that this woman, who had agreed to be faithful just to me, would do something so cruel as to sleep with another man. And now, when she finds herself pregnant, she thinks she can turn to me and ask that I support this child. She must have lost all sense of reality. I can’t do this. I’ll have to break our engagement and let her find her own way through this mess she has brought upon herself.”

We know so little of this man. His ancestry comprises most of his story. Sixteen verses list his lineage and everything else that we know of him is told in just a few short verses and yet, he was chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus, to protect and guide him through the early formative years, to raise him to manhood. The one word used to describe him throughout various translations is righteous. The word is defined today as morally right or justifiable. I would submit that he was also compassionate and patient. Why else would God have chosen him to guide His only son through the early years of life?

And so Joseph’s narrative continues: “But I know the laws of our people, my right as a man who has been wronged and embarrassed in their eyes. Yes, I have the right to cause her bodily harm and great humiliation, but I have loved her and looked forward to the day when we would be joined in marriage. I don’t want to hurt her so I will end our engagement quietly and not bring any additional grief upon her.”

Following what surely must have been hours of stress and planning, Joseph finally falls asleep and it is a fitful sleep, filled with difficult dreams. As he sleeps, an angel enters his world of dreams with a profound message:

Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. Matthew 1:20 MSG

Joseph awakes and he is certain everything he had hoped for and planned has changed in ways he can’t imagine, but he knows what he must do. He is a righteous man and a compassionate one. He must follow the instructions given him in the dream. He must ignore the taunts from the guys he “hangs out” with and overcome any feelings of distrust toward Mary. He must put aside any thoughts of his own reputation and focus on the task at hand … to stand by Mary’s side, to provide for her and comfort her until that day when her child is born and beyond.

Joseph swapped his Torah studies for a pregnant fiancé and an illegitimate son and made the big decision of discipleship. He placed God’s plan ahead of his own. Max Lucado, 3:16

And he has been given a special part in this wonderful story through the angel’s message. He, Joseph, has been given the honor of naming the Spirit-conceived child….

She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus — ‘God saves’ — because he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 MSG

Next week we’ll visit a very busy inn….

4 Responses to “Another Angel Encounter”

  1. Lois Parker says:

    These messages are priceless. God has surely given you a rare talent with words. I can hardly wait for each new one. They are a blessing to me.

  2. Marcy Barthelette says:

    Lois….I am grateful for the gift of words, and I pray each day that they are a blessing to someone. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. Darrell says:

    Several years ago during a real mess of an ice storm, I was stuck in what turned out to be almost a 9 hour journey home on Christmas eve. It’s normally a 30 minute drive, but ice over an inch thick on the road jammed up all traffic turning the freeway into a parking lot. Directly front of me, a car dies and a very pregnant young lady gets out to look under the hood. I hop out of my truck because the ice was like a skating rink and she didn’t need to be on the ice. The alternator just can’t keep up at idle and it just died. I pushed it to the shoulder with the help of two other awesome people. To top off this adventure, her name was Mary. A simple sign of faith in a present day challenge. I took her to the nearest McDonald’s… the only place open in the storm. Her husband cane to get her there. Christmas really is a special time… sometimes we just need to look beyond us to remember. God bless.

  4. Marcy says:

    Thanks, Darrell. That’s a really sweet story & a wonderful reminder that we are to be a light in this world & a blessing to those in need of a hand.

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