Another outlandish request...

Joseph, I know that you are an upright man, a good guy. As good as they come. And you have every right to stone Mary, your intended bride, because of her seemed infidelity.

How did that feel? What dreams were shattered? What issues of your manhood were devastated? What hopes were dashed? I wonder if your stomach felt nauseous or if your fists were perpetually tensed or if you caught yourself exhaling deep sighs of stress?

What advice were you getting from others? Did their words help you or hinder you?

Rather than retaliate, you decided to kindly divorce her quietly...without making a scene, without you coming out as the hero, the "good guy" the one who would deserve the town's pity in every little gossipy conversation. You were far from a narcissist - no manipulation, no grandiose gestures, no passive aggressive self-promotion. How much did you just want this to go away...and maybe, maybe one day you could move on. Maybe.

And then came angel in the dream. "Don't be afraid to marry Mary...this is not what it looks like. This is outside the box. Yes, it's outlandish. But so is my love for humanity. Joseph, son of David, in the lineage of the intended Messiah...I am choosing you..."

To say this is outlandish is equivalent to asking a Jewish holocaust survivor to forgive Hitler. It is an impossible task. One that is not required...unless the Outlandish One, who so loved the world He sent His one and only Son to be born of a virgin, in utter poverty, to live and be crucified for the sins of the world, unless that One steps in and extends an invitation to mimic such outlandish behavior...

"Joseph woke up and did exactly as the angel commanded..."

He didn't say, "Was that just a dream? Maybe I ate too much lamb last night and..." He didn't second guess. He woke up and did exactly as the angel commanded: Married Mary, did not have sex with Mary (now there's a miracle!) until after the birth of Jesus -  and named his son Jesus. Just as he was commanded.

Where was the "peace" in this already humiliating scene made more scandalous?

Imagine if Joseph would have made a pro/con chart to make his decision....if left to his own, would he have made his decision on what felt "peaceful"?

For reflection:

  • What are some outlandish requests that you've received from God? How did that feel?
  • What feels "outlandish" to you there a situation you are trying to "figure out." How might you invite God into that decision?

Paula GambleAdvent, peaceComment