Talk about a scandal.
Most of us know the Christmas story so well that we forget just how appalling and scandalous the whole thing really was. We often gloss over the shocking details that must have caused an uproar in so many lives. Think about it from Joseph’s perspective. He’s engaged to this girl named, Mary. His life is on track, everything is going really well, and then it falls apart. Mary is pregnant. This is bad–REALLY bad. Mary and Joseph aren’t married yet, she is pregnant, and it isn’t Joseph’s child. Not only is this unbelievably scandalous, it is also humiliating. Joseph must have felt like he was just dropped in the middle of a storm.
Joseph had two options in a situation like this. He could break off his engagement with Mary, which was like a divorce. Or, because of what Mary did, he could have her stoned to death.
Both options stink, both options leave him alone without the wife he was planning to marry, both options destroy the life he was planning to live. The Bible tells us that Joseph was a righteous man and didn’t want to hurt Mary, so he decides to quietly break off the engagement.
But God had other plans. God sends an angel to talk to Joseph. The angel appears to Joseph and does this crazy thing–he gives Joseph another option: Marry her. The angel explains that there is so much more going on than what Joseph realizes. “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,” the angel says.
I love the New International Version commentary on this story. It says, ”God often shows us that there are more options available than we think.”
When life corners us and we find ourselves in situations that are unfixable, we can’t always see the options available to us. We tend to get tunneled in on what everyone else would do or what society tells us our options are. We easily forget that God is always bigger than our limited options. Sometimes in those stuck situations it is helpful to remember the angel’s advice to Joseph… Don’t be afraid of this third option. I know it isn’t normal and it is unusual, but there is so much more happening than what you can see.