Advent 2022 Banner - The newborn king


La gloria del Señor según José

Spanish | Mathew 1:18–25

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

– Matthew 1:24


I want you to imagine this scenario. You are engaged to be married, and the long– awaited wedding day is fast approaching. You love each other and have avoided intimate relations waiting for the precious moment of being declared spouses.

Suddenly you receive unexpected news. Your fiancée is pregnant. How would you feel? What would your reaction be?

Well, that happened to Joseph, Mary’s fiancée, according to this Gospel account from Matthew 1:18–25.

By putting ourselves in Joseph’s sandals, we can imagine how devastated he would feel. Being pledged to be married—or “betrothed”—was, at that time, something more serious than it is today. Usually, the commitment time was one year, and you couldn’t just cancel it at any time. In a sense, the fiancés were already considered spouses, so to break off the engagement, they had to face a legal divorce.

Joseph had two options in this difficult situation. One was to report publicly that his fiancé was pregnant, and, according to the law (Deuteronomy 22:23–24), the community would have stoned Mary. The other option was to secretly divorce her to protect her from public embarrassment and punishment. The biblical account tells us that Joseph chose this second option. But what implications would Joseph’s decision have had?

On the one hand, we can imagine the pain for Mary, who, being faithful to God’s will, would be abandoned to face the birth and subsequent education of her child alone. She would have been a single mother. And what about the consequences for Jesus Himself? What would it have meant to grow up and live without a father figure?

It’s a sensitive issue in my Latin American context. I know several people who have grown up only under the care of a mother. They grew up with a profound emotional emptiness and a strong desire to have a close relationship of love and healthy authority with a male figure. Currently, too many men, when they face the responsibility that pregnancy and the care of a baby implies, decide to run away, to abandon their women. It’s so true that I heard a dear colleague from the ministry of Langham Preaching say that, although the parable of the prodigal son has taught us great lessons, in our Latin American reality, we have to tell stories of prodigal fathers. These lost fathers decide to return home and take responsibility for their children’s education and for their wives’ emotional support.

What was the solution to the dilemma Joseph was facing? Matthew tells us that when Joseph was considering abandoning Mary, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’” (Matthew 1:20–21).

Joseph was facing a complicated situation. But God intervened, and the angel reassured him and asked him to receive Mary as his wife. But that was not all. He also told him he had to take responsibility for the child that would be born. That’s why he said to him: “You will give him the name Jesus.” In other words, you will take full charge of the child, receive him as your own son, and give him a legal identity. And this is very significant because, as the angel said, Joseph was the son of David.

How timely was God’s intervention! And what valuable information he transmitted to Joseph. Mary had not betrayed him. Her pregnancy was a true miracle, as confirmed by the quote from Isaiah 7:14. Joseph is also made aware of the unique nature of the son to be born: He will be the Saviour of the people.

The story ends by showing us a Joseph obedient to the message of the angel of the Lord. He did the two things the angel asked him to do: he received Mary as his wife and took care of the baby he named Jesus.

What a great story for us to reflect on! In its details, we see God working out His purposes to provide the world a Saviour through the often–difficult faithfulness of people. And you, how do you solve the great dilemmas of life? Do you seek the will of God and count on the help He provides? Are you willing to obey the Lord and pay the price this often requires?

Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Igor Améstegui is the Director of Langham Preaching for Latin America and lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

To read more Advent Devotionals from the Global Church, please click here