This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18
The annunciation to Mary is a powerful event. But how does Joseph discover that Mary is pregnant? According to Matthew 1:18, Joseph does not first find out about Jesus through an angel. Either Joseph deduced it as he saw physical changes in Mary, or Mary told him herself.
Think about what it must have felt like for Joseph in that moment. The person he’s supposed to marry is pregnant and he knows he’s not the father. And it gets worse: In verse 19 we read, “[He] did not want to expose her to public disgrace.” This does not mean that Joseph didn’t want to embarrass her. This is a reference to Deuteronomy 22:23–24 which says, “If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married”—like Mary—“and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death.” Joseph thinks Mary has done something so shameful that she could be killed for it.
For Joseph this is a moment of ultimate disgrace. This is probably one of the worst moments of his entire life. And this is the point at which the angel comes. Joseph’s life is falling apart, but the angel makes it crystal clear that God is still present in this shameful moment. When Joseph likely feels the worst about his life, God is actually closer to him than ever. And it is here, this moment, when Joseph miraculously discovers that God is going to do something magnificent—that Jesus will save his people from their sins.
Contemplate Matthew 1:18–25. Prayerfully consider: How might you have felt if you were in Joseph’s position?
Written by Peter Chin
Peter Chin is the lead pastor at Rainer Avenue Church in Seattle and is the author of Blindsided by God.