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 1:24-25
It was prophesied; it happened. What God wills cannot be denied. When we obey God’s will, we see we’re living in extraordinary times. Nobody forced Joseph or Mary. They obeyed God and let His will take place through them. They chose to obey; they chose to follow the Lord, and they endured these unusual things.
Can you imagine being married in the West today and not making love for at least nine months? Having ‘legal’ unencumbered sex after marriage is, frankly, one of the reasons people get married. It’s a good & Godly benefit of marriage that we get to express ourselves sexually with our spouse; to share the physical union and pleasure of being as together as people can be. Can you imagine waiting until ‘the other’ child is born before doing this with your wife? It’s alien to our culture; it was foreign to Joseph & Mary’s as well. But they obeyed.
And can you imagine the gossip in Nazareth? Mary might have been showing; her pregnancy might have been publicly visible. At a minimum, those closest to her would likely have known she was pregnant. Anyone in Nazareth “doing the math” would have been able to calculate that the time between their marriage and the time when Mary first showed her pregnancy might not have added up. Granted, this is all speculation. Perhaps her immaculate conception happened at the time of her vows. Perhaps it was only Joseph and Mary who knew and nobody confronted them. Yet, if others did know, surely that would have caused gossip.
Mary and Joseph endured it. Joseph, upright and righteous, endured it. I’d think they endured it without comment, without ‘returning fire.’ They had accepted what God had given into their lives, and they obeyed Him. Like obeying His command to not consummate their marriage, they obeyed Him to accept His will and not add to it.
In doing so, they accepted living an extraordinary life through extraordinary events. And it was only just beginning.
Matthew’s Gospel doesn’t describe Joseph and Mary’s trip to Bethlehem (itself a fulfillment of prophecy). And he doesn’t describe how the birth of John the Baptist preceded Jesus’ own birth (another prophecy). Or like how John’s ministry preceded Jesus’ ministry, the former preparing people for the latter. In the next chapter, we meet the Magi, the learned non-believers who followed God’s signs and then believed. And we learn of Herod’s treachery, how he murdered thousands of children to preserve his own hold on power.
Those were extraordinary events in an extraordinary time. Like our own. And we endure them.
For more reading: Luke 1:31, Acts 5:19, Matthew 2:1
Lord, praise to You for the extraordinary events of Your birth.