Imagine of the thoughts of Joseph when he discovered that Mary was pregnant! The Bible tells us that “Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph” (Matthew 1:18). In those days there were three steps to complete a marriage. Parents would agree that their children would one day marry. This contract was called the engagement.
The engagement was followed by a “betrothal” for one year. During this year the couple was committed to marriage. In some ways they functioned as husband and wife, but they didn’t sleep together.
After the one-year betrothal the man and woman got married at a wedding ceremony. Now they were free to enter into all the privileges of marriage. It was a great embarrassment for the family if a woman became pregnant during the betrothal period.
That’s why Joseph was thinking about a way out of the marriage contract when the angel appeared and explained, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20, 21).
Joseph’s response is amazing. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (verse 24). Joseph trusted God and did exactly what God asked him to do!
The angel appeared to Mary and declared, “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). Imagine Mary’s astonished thoughts. How could I become pregnant with the Messiah? How will I explain this to my parents?
The angel continued: “. . . So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Mary’s response is amazing. She said, “Whatever God says, I will do” (see Luke 1:38). So a teenage girl, Mary, was totally committed to doing God’s will.
The most amazing fact about Bethlehem is the Baby in the manger. God chose to reveal Himself among the animals in a stable. God chose to speak to the human race in the innocence, gentleness, and helplessness of a newborn.
The King of kings is born in a stinky, smelly stable. He comes to reveal the Father’s love. He comes to live and die for us—so that we can one day be with Him forever in Heaven.
—Adapted from the December 23, 2010, AdventistReview cover story, “Amazed at Bethlehem,” by Mark A. Finley.