I love Advent; waiting for the coming Lord is a palpable feeling in the life of the Church.
I find joy in the duality of anticipating and celebrating both Jesus’ first coming and his second coming (which if happens on December 21 will blow everyones mind because the Mayans were correct, but I digress). Celebrating Jesus who has already come to set us free from the bondage of the world, and anticipating the second coming when he will establish his new Kingdom forever are core themes in Advent.
But, I think we forget something. Waiting for Jesus’ first coming wasn’t all lollipops and rainbows for one soon to be family; it actually messed up their situation for a while.
In Matthews account of Jesus’ birth story we read that after Mary told Joseph that she was pregnant–under suspicious circumstances–his response was a plan to divorce her.
“Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly” (Matt 1:19).
Yes, Joseph was going to leave his knocked up “wife,” because she had a baby that was obviously not his–they hadn’t “known each other Biblically.” He seems to be a stand up guy since he didn’t want to expose her publicly. But still, Joseph’s response was to not believe that she was knocked up by God; really who can blame him? Who would believe a girl today if she said she was still a virgin, yet pregnant.
The situation gets worse. Here is a line in the same story but in Luke’s account:
“Mary remained with Elizabeth about three month and then returned home” (Luke 1:56).
So, during the course of Mary’s pregnancy they spent time apart, three months to be exact.
I think the sequence of event went something like this.
- Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she was pregnant.
- Mary relayed the pregnancy message to Joseph.
- Joseph wanted to divorce Mary quietly.
- She went to stay with her cousin for three months.
Thankfully, this is not the end of the story.
Joseph ends up getting a little visit from an angel too. (Let me interject here, if my wife got pregnant and the timeline was wrong, it would take an angel from God himself to make me believe that this was God’s doing. Or a DNA test with only her DNA showing up)
I love the Holy Family. It all worked out in the end and their faithfulness in bringing Jesus into the world should be remembered and honored. But sometimes I think we gloss over Joseph’s lapse in faith here. He wasn’t on board with God’s plan immediately.
When Jesus came into the life of the Holy family it wasn’t easy.
Likewise, when Jesus comes again, I think it won’t be easy, we’re all going to have some adjustments to make.
Biblical living is my sporadic series to remind people to be specific and unpack terms like “Biblical.”
Not all actions and choices by people in the Bible should be replicated, yet they’re all Biblical.
Not all situations and responses should be our aspiration, but the serve as a reminder of the humanity of God’s people.