Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Advent: Joseph 3

Christmas meant that Joseph learned that sometimes God surprises (1:20-21)
I doubt that many think of Joseph when, this Christmas, they give to their loved ones a “good surprise” at Christmas. We’ve all had our share of presents that were both surprises and generally unwelcomed ones. The best presents, of course, are both surprises and “just what we wanted.” The joy of it all rolls out in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
But, perhaps the biggest surprise of them all – both surprising and generally unwelcomed, was the news Joseph got: your girlfriend is pregnant, you are not the father, and you are to marry her, and in so doing you’ll lose your reputation as a tsadiq. But, this is what God wants for you, for Mary, and for the baby – and for the world. So hang on, this will be a wild ride for about 35 years. Imagine that as the gift under your tree!
The surprise, of course, which no one will receive as true, is that Mary is pregnant from the Holy Spirit – I call this the Big Fat Jewish Miracle Wedding Story. Mary knew it was true; Elizabeth, too. Joseph simply didn’t buy it – and it took some angelic manifestation for him to be convinced.
I imagine this conversation with Joseph and the angel:
A: God has sent me to tell you to marry Mary anyway.
J: No way.
A: Yes way.
J: No way.
A: Why not?
J: God says not to. I’m obedient.
A: God told me to tell you to disregard what you know and marry her anyway.
J: No way.
A: Why?
J: God says this in the Bible.
A: Times are changing, Joseph. I suggest you marry her.
J: OK. (But, tell God this is strange.)
A: He knows, I’m sure.
There is some deep irony here: Joseph thinks Mary (or someone else) has sinned; he chooses to divorce her so as not to sin; and God says that this baby, this little mamzer (Hebrew for an illegitimate child), will “save his people from their sins.”
Talk about irony: the one who others thought was born in sin will now be a sin-ending Savior.

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ted gossard

posted November 30, 2005 at 8:00 am

amen Scot.
There’s something there in Joseph’s experience you recount so well- that is there for all of us, I’m sure. At least in the sense of openness to God to break down our own sacred paradigms and put in place his will and kingdom in those places.
Good stuff to ponder.

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Regina Clare Jane

posted November 30, 2005 at 9:25 am

I always loved St. Joseph- he was surely a man of strong faith, but must have also been a very trusting man as well. Love this series…

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Scot McKnight

posted November 30, 2005 at 10:12 am

Thanks for commenting on my Joseph posts.

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posted November 30, 2005 at 2:40 pm

This has been a great post and a great series. But if you have additional thoughts on Luke 1:25-38, please post by tomorrow, because the outline has to be in by Thursday noon for the Sunday bulletin (just kidding). In all seriousness, it has been a very helpful in my study of these passages (and not just for what gets said on Sunday).

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Dana Ames

posted December 1, 2005 at 8:15 pm

What Ted said.
This is simply beautiful.

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Scot McKnight

posted December 10, 2005 at 10:04 am


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