Birth of the Messiah
From the devotional Day by Day in the Gospel of Matthew by Chuck Gianotti.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
The heritage of Jesus Christ having been established, the story of His birth begins. The facts are well known: a young couple engaged, who had been saving themselves sexually for marriage, the girl (probably a young teen, as was customary for marriage in that culture) became pregnant, but not by Joseph. This proved to be a crisis of monstrous proportions for Joseph. According to Luke’s account, Mary’s pregnancy became known to him after she had returned from her visit with Cousin Elizabeth from the hill country of Judah (where there were many military outposts). Try as he might, it would have been impossible for him to believe Mary’s story that she had not been unfaithful while away.
Joseph, being of gracious and merciful character, wanted to protect Mary‘s reputation. His tenderhearted care for her was obvious, despite her seemingly obvious infidelity. It was not a matter of forgiveness, for Mary could not confess to any wrongdoing without perjuring herself. The only righteous course of action was divorce, albeit a quiet one. Engagement in that day and culture was considered as binding as marriage, though the sexual consummation took place after a waiting period.
Nothing but a supernatural announcement could convince Joseph of this. The truth of the matter was simply that she was to be the entry point of God’s Messiah into the world. On the one hand, it was preposterously mythical to unbelievers. But on the other hand, it was overwhelmingly fantastic for this godly young couple! In a matter beyond scientific observation or explanation, the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary. This unique event changed the course of human history.
Joseph was told, “Do not be afraid,” and no wonder. The idea is mind-numbing. Deity was about to invade the natural world. The God of the universe, the longawaited Messiah, the One who would “save His people from their sins”—Jesus— was about to be born to a young woman named Mary.