Matthew 1: 18-24
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 fulfil 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.
Isaiah 55: 9
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Joseph is one of the most overlooked figures in the Christmas story. In some ways that’s quite understandable because, when you read the narrative, Joseph never actually says a single word anywhere. We have no record in all of Scripture of Joseph ever talking and quiet people sometimes get overlooked. In the noise and busyness, amidst all the other voices, the quiet can get forgotten about.
And yet Joseph is absolutely central to the Christmas story. Mary and Joseph are betrothed, similar to being engaged only more legally binding. She is getting ready for the big day. He is working on the house, probably adding another room, turning it into a home for his bride to be. There would have been all the expectations and longings, dreams for the future.
And then the news comes that shatters everything. Mary is pregnant, and he's definitely not the father. Total devastation. Absolute heartache. Trust shattered.
While he’s processing everything, thinking it all through, an angel appears in a dream, and this is basically what he tells Joseph: ‘It’s not what it looks like. You may think that Mary has betrayed you, that she’s been unfaithful - I know how it appears, but it’s not what it looks like.’
We tend to make assumptions based on our best knowledge and past experience and most of the time, that’s okay. But we need to know that there are times when even our best knowledge and experience cannot explain what God is doing. His ways are higher than ours.
Joseph had thought it all through himself, he had gone over it again and again in his head. It’s only as Joseph gets to the end of his own solutions, thinking and reasoning that God gives him His thoughts on the matter. God says: ‘Here’s my perspective on your situation and it’s not what you think. From my perspective things are totally different than you would ever have guessed by your own limited reasoning and thinking.’
Our perspective is so limited. We don’t have access to all the information, we see things on a horizontal dimension. If we were to see things from above and beyond where we are right now, some events and situations might look completely different.
Right now, all we can see is failure in our life - but we don’t see God’s perspective which is the incredible future He has for us.
From our position, it might look like the end of things - but from God’s perspective it’s just the beginning of a whole new adventure.
Jesus once said this to his followers:
“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13: 7)
I think that He would say that to some of us today: ‘Right now you do not realise what I’m doing but later you will understand. It’s not what it looks like.’
God’s love is higher than our present problem. His solution is above my best thinking. His mercy covers my greatest mess. His grace is greater than my sin. His provision is bigger than my bills. His peace engulfs my stress. Jesus’ name is above every other name.