Expecting the Unexpected


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.

[Matthew 1:18-25]


The Marriage of the Virgin, Raphael, 1504.

It’s been more than 18 years since I read the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” but I’m fairly certain that this prenatal book does not have a chapter on what to do if you find out that you are expecting the Son of God who will save us from our sins! Not only did Joseph not expect his betrothed to be expecting, but I’m sure that he did not expect that baby to be the long-awaited Messiah.

The focus of the Gospel writer Matthew is on the birth of Jesus as the fulfillment of the ancient prophesies in the Jewish Scriptures announcing the coming of the Messiah, and in this passage the specific focus is on Joseph and his reaction to the news that Mary is expecting a baby.

Joseph understood what the Old Testament prophesies meant, he just did not expect to be the one facilitating the Messiah’s arrival!

Joseph must have been thrown for a loop when he heard the news from Mary. That’s not what he had expected to hear, but being a kind and righteous man, Joseph tried to find a way out that would protect both Mary and himself. However, God intervened, and a message from an angel in his dream reminded Joseph of what he already knew from the prophets. His heart transformed, Joseph began to trust that this was meant to be.

What a leap of faith to go from trauma to trust!

It takes faith to trust that the right thing to do is not always the expected thing. To borrow from one of my father’s sermons from long ago, we must ask ourselves…are we expecting the unexpected?

Emmanuel, God is with us. God comes to us in many, sometimes unexpected, ways.  Will you recognize God’s presence in your life? How will you respond? Are you ready to welcome the unexpected?

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