December 20, Sunday
Joseph's Eye-Opening Experience
Matthew 1:18-25 (NRSV)
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
As a middle-school little girl, I just had to have a guitar. I pleaded with my mom for a guitar for Christmas. She was doubtful but said, “We’ll see.”
Several weeks before Christmas, the Christmas tree began to display one present after another under it. Then one day a wide, long wrapped box appeared.
“That’s my guitar! I know it! I am sure!” I announced to my family. My mom took me aside, pointed to the wrapped, large box and explained that my stepfather needed a new suit, which had to lay flat. My heart sank. I told her I understood.
I kept hoping and hoping for that guitar, but nothing. Finally Christmas morning arrived and more presents “mysteriously” appeared under the tree—just not anything guitar-shaped.
My mom divvied out all the presents which were opened in a flurry. After bows and scraps of paper were everywhere, I realized the large suit box was still under the tree. I motioned to my mom to go get it for my stepfather. Instead she said: “It’s actually yours.” My eyes popped wide open! I now could see what everyone else had known all along. This little seventh-grader could not have been happier with her pawnshop guitar.
In today’s Scripture, Joseph didn’t have a heart problem; he had an eye problem. He saw with the only truth he had—the Law. And even then he tempered the Law with compassion and mercy for Mary because he was “unwilling to expose her to public disgrace.”
Like many of us after we have been dealt a disappointing blow, I am guessing Joseph laid down to collect his thoughts and strength. He went to sleep resolved to end the marriage. But while asleep, he had a revelation about God’s plan. Upon awakening Joseph changed directions and proceeded forward into God’s revolution with the coming Messiah—Mary’s and his baby, Jesus.
Do I have a spiritual heart problem or an eye problem or an ear problem that needs healing attention before I am able to hear and follow God for my next step forward?
Oh Lord, this Advent season, please help me to see, to hear, and to love with an obedience to you that is revolutionary.
By Kay Hardin, Chaplain, Baptist Health, North Little Rock
Second Baptist Church, Little Rock
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