READ: Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25
Yesterday the story of a couple ‘well along in years’ spoke to me. Today it is the story of a young couple, just starting life together. This story is different, yet there is a very strong recurring theme of ordinary people doing ordinary things whose lives are set on a new trajectory as heaven touches earth in preparation for Jesus’ birth.
The story of Joseph and Mary really has to start with Mary. If she had said ‘no’ to God, there would have been no need for an angel to visit Joseph, His obedience would not have been tested. Mary — In my mind’s eye I see a young teen, probably 13 or 14 (I cringe to think of this from our cultural perspective) excited at the prospect of setting up housekeeping in the home her husband will provide. Once the marriage contract or ‘Ketubah’ was legally entered into between Joseph and Mary’s father, she and Joseph were legally wed although without the possibility of consummation until Joseph had readied a place for Mary to live with him. Only divorce could separate them at this point. In keeping with Jewish marriage tradition of the time, Joseph would have approached Mary’s father with the offer of marriage. Mary was given the choice to accept the offer at which point Joseph would give a dowry payment to Mary’s father in compensation for all of the work Mary did for the family. That work was real day-to-day participation in the life of the family. I picture this day being like all others for Mary. Arising early, greeting the day and her Lord in prayer, moving into the daily tasks of hearth and home, perhaps wondering if this would be the day her husband would come to take her to her new home. But instead of Joseph, her day was interrupted when the angel greeted her and everything was turned upside down.
Joseph — A righteous man perhaps around 18 years of age. Sometime after Mary’s experience, he also would have risen early to meet his God in prayer and then gone about the normal duties of his day. Added to those regular obligations he likely spent time that day preparing the place that he would bring his bride. I can only imagine the deep distress he had to feel as the news of Mary’s ‘condition’ was delivered to him. He obviously processed this and came to the conclusion that he would not expose Mary to public disgrace but would divorce her quietly. This would’ve been a blotch on his reputation – Mary’s family would retain the bride-price and no reason would be given for the divorce. But God had a different plan and sent the angel of the Lord to change Joseph’s mind.
What speaks most loudly to me in this story is the profound impact of two young people going about daily life saying ‘yes’ to God every day. Those days of ordinary tasks and ordinary plans lived with hearts turned toward God in ‘yes’ built the foundation for a very profound and costly ‘yes’ in each of their lives. I’m not sure I’ve grasped before the power of ‘yes’. Yes is the starting-gate for the most mundane and the most amazing of God’s works!
Lord, YES! When it comes to living life in You, to serving You, I want to be the biggest ‘yes man’ ever! Give me the ability to say yes to the smallest of tasks you ask me to do. Give me the courage to say yes to the big stuff too. Give me wisdom and discernment that I might know Your voice and reserve ‘no’ for those things that are not from You. Yes Lord, YES!