But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:20-25)
So God, in His wisdom and insight, chose two people to be the nurturers of the pure message of grace, Joseph and Mary. Perhaps in both their responses to the visitation of Gabriel we can see why. Faithful, obedient, and loving, are there hallmarks. Even so, what astounding news it was necessary for them to comprehend. Joseph, the kind, carpenter, discovers his promised wife is already pregnant…and definitely not to him. He struggles with the the tension of the Jewish traditions and local morals that normally applied to women pregnant out of wedlock, and the insight provided by Mary that the child is conceived by God Himself, by His Holy Spirit.
Perhaps due to his kindness and care for Mary, and his thoughts on the amazing story about the seed for this babe, with a little fear of God and man, meant he would pursue a way of mercy and grace, and deal secretly but gently with the matter. However, God had other plans, and sent Gabriel to instruct and encourage this man Joseph in his call, and to reveal His amazing grace.
For this child would be God’s answer for saving His people from their sins. Wow, in the context of their traditions of priestly sacrifices for sins, and the despair many felt at the time for the wretched nature of the people of Israel, a conquered nation, subject to Rome, this message is so profound.
God Will Be Gracious
Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem;
You shall weep no more.
He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
When He hears it, He will answer you. (Isaiah 30:18-19)
God tells Joseph this child is the One that He uses to bestow His unmerited favour on them, by supplanting their sin with His great grace. In this child He reveals He has heard the cry of His people, and will deliver them from their sins. Perhaps, the hint for how is revealed in the ancient prophecy quoted in the verses quoted earlier from the gospel of Luke regarding Immanuel, where this virgin conceives ‘God with us’, bestowing us with His very presence.
Joseph’s response to this message, and it’s weight, was simple and immediate. Putting aside any concerns, or fear of man, he does as the Lord says, taking Mary as his bride, and decreeing over the child His God given name and identity, ‘Saviour’. In doing so revealing more of who Jesus is for us as well, the One who hears our cries, even the unspoken ones, and supplants our sins by bestowing upon us His grace, as we also hear and obey His call.