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. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
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.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
~Matthew 1:18–25 (NIV, emphasis mine)
I ponder this stage of Mary and Joseph’s relationship whenever I read the Christmas story.
The Scriptures highlight that Joseph had made up his mind to end his engagement with Mary until an angel came to him in a dream. When he woke up, he married Mary just as the Lord commanded. I have written before about how I struggle not to be the Holy Spirit in my husband’s life. While this passage doesn’t say how Mary handled the situation, I couldn’t help but mentally play out how she might have reacted to Joseph’s initial plan to leave her.
- Did she take the “Darby route” where she (inappropriately and disrespectfully) cried and pleaded with Joseph about God’s will? Did she experience an enormous amount of pressure as she assumed she was called to be Joseph’s conscience? Did she grow frustrated at him, calling into question his faith, for not believing her words?
- Or did she take a more mature route that included trusting God to take care of all of her needs long before she ever brought up the topic to Joseph? Did she leave the task of changing his mind in the hands of the Lord rather than assuming sole responsibility? Did she love him despite his disbelief? Did she celebrate his change of heart rather than becoming bitter that it took an angel to convince him of the truth of her story?
I am only speculating about how Mary might have handled the situation. She, like all of us, was a sinner in need of a Savior, so perhaps she had her moments of doubt, grief, and anger. But the Bible highlights her faith and calls her “highly favored.” If she trusted the Lord with a virgin birth, then maybe she always believed God would change Joseph’s heart at just the right time.
What a great lesson for every wife!
What would happen if we would trust the Lord to communicate with our husbands? Instead of fretting over their beliefs and convictions (or lack thereof), we can love, pray, and trust. Though I often struggle to put it into practice, it really is as simple as that. The Lord raised Jesus from the dead, so we should take to heart Luke 1:37, which says, “For nothing is impossible with God” (NLT).
Let’s be wives to our husbands rather than their conscience!