During Advent, we not only remember how Christ first came into the lives of the individuals at the nativity, but how he came into our own lives and continues to transform us. We invite you to read the gospel account of Joseph and reflect upon how he was obedient to God’s unexpected plan.

Full Scripture passage: Luke 2:1-7 & Matthew 1:18-25, 2:19-23

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph was a man of honor. When he found out his betrothed, Mary, was going to have a baby, the first place he went for help was God’s holy law. After careful consideration, he decided to show mercy to Mary by divorcing her quietly. Then, he had a dream.

But after he had considered 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 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

Perhaps because Joseph was such a deep thinker, God chose to get his attention at a time when his defenses would be down. Jospeh’s dreaming mind could accept what his alert mind would have questioned. Unlike Mary, he was not given a chance to ask anything of the angel who visited him. In the dream, Joseph may have been more receptive to hearing the incredible truth about the coming Messiah and his role in welcoming Christ into the world.

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
Matthew 1:24

Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
Luke 2:5-7

When he awoke, Joseph immediately put God’s plan into action. This was not the life he had expected to live, but he followed God with a willing heart to Bethlehem. 

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.
Matthew 2:19-21

Later, when Joseph was told in another dream that he needed to flee from Egypt with his new family, he trusted God again. He practiced radical obedience by following each phase of God’s plan as it was revealed to him. The coming of Christ disrupted Jospeh’s life, but he valued God’s wisdom over his own.

Welcoming Christ into our own lives is not easy. Like Joseph, we may encounter ostracization, inconvenience, and even danger. Joseph could face the unexpected because he had faith in the One whose knowledge is not bound by space and time. He made room in his life for God to work, and God used him to usher in Christ’s Kingdom. 

As you plan for 2024, where do you need to make room for Christ? How can you surrender your personal plans to the plans of God?

Jasmine O’Hea
Impact 360 Resident