The story of Christmas is said to be the greatest ever told. It’s the story of the Creator of the Universe, the All-powerful One, “I Am” coming down and humbling Himself, taking the form of an infant human in order to save the world. I love hearing the story. This year as I was reading through it, I was struck by Mary’s faith as she carried the Messiah in her womb. And as I continued reading, there was Joseph, himself faithful to be the earthly father the Son of God. They both took incredible risks and demonstrated great trust in God and in one another parenting the Promised One, the Savior of the world.
The Faith of Mary
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”Luke 1:26-38
By becoming pregnant out of wedlock, Mary risked being executed for adultery. In those days the maternal mortality rate was high and she risked complications during her pregnancy and dying in childbirth. But Mary depended on God. She believed the promise the angel delivered to her, that she would be protected and would deliver the Son of God without complication and raise Him to adulthood.
But Mary didn’t just risk bodily harm or death by carrying the Messiah. She also risked her relationship with her fiance Joseph by carrying a child that wasn’t his. And even if Joseph didn’t end the relationship or have her executed, he may resent her for their entire marriage for having to raise a son not biologically his.
Mary also knew being Jesus’ mother would bring her pain. It was foretold by Simeon when Jesus was dedicated in the temple:
“And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”Luke 2:33-35
Being the mother of God would not be easy, but Mary trusted her Father and became the most blessed among women.
“And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”Luke 1:46-50
The Faith of Joseph
“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.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”Matthew 1:18-25
No one would have blamed Joseph if he had quietly dissolved his relationship with Mary upon finding out she was pregnant with a baby who wasn’t his. We may not have read about him in the Bible, but if he’d still made it in there, he would have been an honorable man. After all, agreeing to marry Mary meant Jesus would be his first-born son, the heir to his household. He would essentially be adopting her Son and raising Him as his own. But Joseph was not just a man of integrity, he was a man of faith. When the angel visited him, he trusted God. He took on the risk of being head of the earthly family of the Messiah, the Chosen One.
When Herod threatened his family, Joseph, along with Mary and their Child, fled to Egypt, becoming refugees. He left his home, his extended family, and his livelihood to protect the Messiah from the murderous wrath of the king.
“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet,“Out of Egypt I called my son.”Matthew 2:13-15
Joseph embraced Jesus as his Son, teaching Him the carpentry trade. But all the while, Joseph knew he was Jesus’ earthly father and that His Father in Heaven was the ultimate authority.
A Marriage of Faith
Both Mary and Joseph risked everything to be faithful to God. Fleeing the country to protect their Son separated them from all earthly support systems. They relied on God for provision, for safety, and trusted they were raising the Savior of the world – together.
And when they returned to Nazareth, they risked scoffing looks and gossip about their family. How many knew Mary was pregnant at their wedding? And what about as Jesus grew up and he didn’t look like His father Joseph?
What a love story! What incredible trust between them and faith in the Father of all.
Maybe that’s why God chose them to be the earthly parents for His Son, because of their great faith in Him, their incredible relationship with each other, and their willingness to be living sacrifices for the Lord their God.
What a marriage! I mean, can you imagine having a relationship built on mutual trust and service to God? It’s absolutely incredible. May we all aspire to their faithfulness.
Glory be to God!