But after he had considered this, 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).
After Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant, he despaired over the future. No doubt she told him about the child’s divine origins, but how was he to believe her? Such a story was inconceivable. So as we saw last week, Joseph chose the best of the unwelcome options – divorce. God, however, had different plans.
Joseph awakes from his dream and instantly knows the truth of Mary’s pregnancy. The night before his hopes for marriage had been shattered, but in the light of day he sees a whole new reality shaping up, including him being the legal father of one who will become the Savior to his people. Surely Joseph wakes up a changed man; no longer despairing, he embraces a new life.
When the angel called Joseph “son of David,” this was to establish Jesus’ divine lineage. (Incidentally, Joseph is the only one named thus in the New Testament other than Jesus himself.) Along this line, the angel also instructed Joseph to name Jesus, for that entails him formally acknowledging Jesus as his son, and thus a son of David. Joseph may not be the biological father of Jesus, but his role as earthly father is vital.
God speaking to his children hasn’t changed from biblical times – he still breaks through, whether through a dream, an insight gleaned from the Bible, wisdom from friends, our time of prayer, or through other means. How is God reaching out to you, when you might be finishing up work or school, buying last-minute presents, preparing food, reading Christmas missives, or generally being stressed? As you go forth, know that God will speak, even in the midst of all of this.
Prayer: Father, I am busy with many things. Help me to choose what is best.