Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
ANNUNCIATION TO JOSEPH
v17. “The Lord your God is with you; He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
The positive messages described in the Bible passage show how God would someday reverse the effects of judgment and restore His people. Zephaniah intended to encourage the followers of the Lord by assuring them that God would preserve a remnant and ultimately fulfill His promise to their forefathers. Assured of eventual vindication, the faithful could persevere through hard times and look past the coming judgment with anticipation. This also shows the great joy the Lord will feel when Jerusalem, His chosen city, is repopulated by His exiled people and the pain of past judgment passes once and for all (3:16-20).
We usually think of the word “annunciation” in connection with the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she will bear a child (Luke 1:26-38). However, in Matthew’s Gospel, it is Joseph to whom the angel appears. Luke tells us of Mary’s obedience (1:38), but Matthew tells Joseph’s obedience (1:24). Luke features Mary prominently in his account of Jesus’ birth (chapters 1 and 2), but Matthew brings Joseph to the forefront. Joseph is important to Matthew’s Gospel, because Jesus becomes part of David’s lineage through Joseph (1:1-17). All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
The idea of the gift of Jesus as Immanuel is unique to Matthew’s Gospel. He tells the story through the eyes of Joseph, the man to whom Mary was betrothed. In the ancient Near East, a betrothal was legally binding covenant between a man and a woman. So when Joseph found out that Mary was expecting a child who was not his own, he pondered how he could be released from his contract to remain pure before God, but without destroying Mary’s future, because he was a righteous man which means he understands that grace and mercy are more important than adherence to the law (1-9). This put him in a dilemma. The Jewish, Greek, and Roman law all demand that he publicly divorces Mary. However, Joseph resolves to do so as discreetly as possible. Then the angel of the Lord appeared and assured him that the baby had been conceived by the Holy Spirit (v. 20).
It must have been a scary thing for Joseph to take such a risk. Only a deep and abiding faith could have enabled him to follow through with the angel’s instructions. Any time we do that which is unpopular or goes against what society considers to be “right”, we take a risk. The angel convinced Joseph that God will be with him. The story of Joseph reminds us that when we do the loving thing such as caring about someone no one likes or is not normal, God will be with us. To the world, the faithfulness of Joseph may seem foolish, but to those who are willing to follow his example and surrender their wills to the will of our Creator God, the faithfulness of Joseph is not simply a way of pleasing God; it’s a way of fulfilling your own life’s destiny.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Some reject Jesus while others - and often the ones you would least expect - rejoice, worship, obey, and offer Him the gift of their lives, the only appropriate gift for such a Universal King.
Father in heaven, when we are called upon to swim against the flow to do Your will, we pray, that You give us strength and courage. Amen.
Daniel Thomas, Orlando MTC, Florida
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church