Strange But True
He probably didn't have wings and a halo. But there was something about him -- Mary knew he was an angel. Mary was young and idealistic. Joseph was a good guy, the kind of man any father would be glad to welcome as a son-in-law. They had their whole lives ahead of them. They would get married, settle down and start having children -- in that order.
Or so they thought.
But then came the strange visit from the strange visitor who announced such troubling things. He knew her name, and he said she was going to have a baby...but that couldn't be true! She and Joseph were going to wait until after they were married before they...you know...did the thing that leads to having babies.
Still, this odd person -- this angel -- said she would have a child, even though she was a virgin. The baby was going to be God's Son, and his conception would have nothing to do with the normal processes.
How in the world was she going to explain this to Joseph?
Joseph -- the man with the upstanding reputation -- did not take the news well. He didn't get angry and yell at her; he was too much of a good guy for that. But he certainly wasn't going to marry her now. She was damaged goods. Once people found out (and Nazareth was too small a place for them not to find out), it would cost him that upstanding reputation.
If he wanted to maintain his status, he would have to terminate their relationship. There was no need to make a big fuss over it. He could handle this quietly. He didn't want to embarrass her.
But, he may have wondered, what if she is telling the truth? No, that's crazy! There's no way an angel showed up to a teenage girl in the middle of nowhere to tell her that she's carrying a miracle baby. In Jerusalem? Maybe. In Nazareth? Never.
Joseph decided to sleep on it.
Little did he know that YHWH would invade his dreams, sending a messenger to let him know that Mary was telling the truth. Joseph need not be afraid to marry her, the angel said. He didn't need to worry that Mary had been unfaithful.
And so Joseph and Mary, neither of them knowing how it would all work out, embarked on their journey together.
And you thought your engagement and wedding were stressful!
Together, they would endure the onslaught of insult and ridicule. They would hear the whispers and see the smirks. They would answer the questions they could and ignore the rest. Sometimes they doubted themselves and wondered if they had imagined the whole thing.
But then there was this baby, who became a boy, who became a man who was really a Person who had always existed. And it was all so strange and new and unheard of that it just had to be true.
And it was.
This is an excerpt from my latest book, The 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible.