Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:18-21 ESV
What would you do if you were in Joseph’s shoes, living in today’s passage? You find that the woman to whom you’re betrothed is expecting a baby—and you’re not the father! Joseph decided the best course of action would be a quiet divorce, possibly to maintain his righteousness while also protecting Mary, though infidelity could be punishable by death! But the plans changed after Joseph’s encounter with the angel.
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him not to fear taking Mary as his wife. The angel explains: she has conceived by the Holy Spirit. This will be no ordinary baby! The angel instructs Joseph to “call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The name Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means ‘Yahweh Saves.’ Yes, Jesus would save His people from their sins!
As the biblical account continues, we learn that Joseph did just what the angel instructed. But to do so was risky and required great faith. Risk always requires great faith! As the year comes to an end and we celebrate Christmas, consider Joseph’s example: the desire to be righteous, the willingness to risk reputation for the sake of obedience to the Lord, and the faith to believe in God’s promises.