Love Prepares Home for God’s Intervention

Mary-Joseph Example
Marital Commitment Founded on Love

Mary and Joseph relied on love to deal with human challenges they faced as part of their call to become parents of the Messiah. Mary was concerned about potential effects of the pregnancy on her relationship with Joseph. She surrendered her concerns to God. Joseph, on his part, was aware of Mary’s extraneous pregnancy but determined to protect her from public disgrace in the event of terminating the engagement in obedience to Jewish law. However, God sent him an angel to explain Mary’s pregnancy. Their love for each other prepared their heart to receive and execute their unique call and may well have been the reason they were chosen.

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This study focuses on Mary and Joseph as a couple, using events from their life to seek better understanding of God’s purpose for husband-wife interactions and relationships. They were engaged to be married when God called them to host the Messiah as his human parents. They prevailed over the human challenges of their call because of strong marital commitment founded on love and relying on the faith of God to overcome difficulties.

Town of Nazareth
Town of Nazareth
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The call came to Mary first. Angel Gabriel appeared to her in the town of Nazareth and informed her in a live human conversation that she will conceive of the Messiah through the power of the Holy Spirit. Her request for clarification reveals she was concerned about potential effects on her human relationships, especially with her fiancé Joseph. In her loyalty to human commitments, she asked for human understanding. However, after the angel explained the conception will be through the power of God, whereby “nothing will be impossible” [Luke 1:37], she obeyed and submitted her concerns wholeheartedly to God.

Joseph's Angel Dream
Joseph’s Angel Dream
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Joseph received his call as he considered his options for responding to his fiancée’s inexplicable pregnancy. He was loyal to a Jewish law that required him to terminate the engagement. However, he was concerned about her and wanted to protect her from public disgrace. Then an angel of God informed him in a dream that “what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 1:20]. Furthermore, the angel informed Joseph he will be the human father of the Son of God that was conceived in Mary. The dream was sufficient for Joseph. He took Mary home to be his wife.

Through the concern she raised with the angel, Mary showed her love for Joseph and commitment to their engagement. Joseph, on his part, showed his love by seeking to protect Mary even if he had to obey the Jewish law. Both surrendered their concerns to God in complete obedience as soon as they recognized the call. Their love for each other determined their choices in a difficult challenge. Their faith of God gave them peace that their concerns will be resolved right. We discuss the events of their call to reach a conclusion that they were chosen because of their love for each other.

The Call of Mary

The bible [Luke 1:26–38] provides a condensed account of Mary’s interaction with angel Gabriel as God called her to a mission to become the mother of the Messiah. She was a virgin and engaged to be married to Joseph. The angel appeared to her, greeted her in a way that appeared quite unusual. As she pondered over the greeting, the angel informed her: “you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus” [Luke 2:31]; he will be called the Son of God, will take over the throne of David, and will have an everlasting kingdom.

Mary likely attempted a human evaluation but couldn’t make any sense of the information. For example, why was the angel talking to her without her fiancé if the information had something to do with her getting pregnant?

Mary Requests Clarification
Mary Requests Clarification
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She asked for clarification, still seeking a human understanding [Luke 1:34]: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” The angel explained that she will conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit. Further, to assist her understanding, the angel gave an example of her relative Elizabeth being unexpectedly pregnant at an advanced age, for “with God nothing will be impossible” [Luke 1:37]. Although the angel’s explanation did not address her human concerns directly, she understood this was a request from God and not only accepted but surrendered her concerns wholeheartedly to God.

Accepting with Surrender
Accepting with Surrender
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Based on the information provided about her, we can surmise that her request for clarification centered on how the pregnancy could affect her human relationships, especially with her fiancé Joseph. How was she to explain her pregnancy? How about existing laws against extraneous pregnancy? Her commitment to marry Joseph? How would his heart hold up against his fiancée being inexplicably pregnant? Although the angel did not answer any of these questions directly, Mary recognized the call from God and surrendered to God’s resolution of her concerns: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” [Luke 1:38].

We know her concerns regarding Joseph were near the top of the “list” she surrendered to God because God addressed the concerns as we discuss presently.

The Call of Joseph

Joseph already knew his fiancée was pregnant without his participation, because news of the pregnancy appeared well out in the community: “…but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 1:18]. He was determined to obey a Jewish law that required him to end the engagement, but was concerned about Mary. He wanted to protect her from ignominy and decided he will end the engagement quietly: “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly” [Matthew 1:19].

Angel Appears
Angel Appears
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God stepped in to help Joseph resolve the conflict. An angel appeared to him in a dream to explain the pregnancy and the relationship between him and the child. First, the angel informed him to remain committed to Mary “because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 1:20]. Second, the angel explained the child is the Son of God and that he (Joseph) will be his human father: “…and you are to give him the name Jesus” [Matthew 1:21].

As we discuss in a previous bible study under Parent-Child Relationships, interactions at the naming of John the Baptist help establish that naming a child was reserved for the father in that Jewish community at that time. Therefore, the offer to Joseph of authority to “give him the name Jesus” is equivalent to “appointing” him the child’s human father. That is, Joseph was called through the dream to be the human father of the Son of God. The dream encounter resolved all his concerns to his satisfaction. He took Mary home the next morning and married her.

God’s Intervention in Mary-Joseph Life

The love that Mary and Joseph had for each other prepared them for God’s intervention. They were both committed to their engagement and sought to protect each other in the extraordinary circumstances of their call. Mary was concerned about potential effects of her humanly inexplicable pregnancy on her relationship with Joseph. Her concern was not resolved directly then but she surrendered wholeheartedly to God’s resolution. God addressed the concern by sending an angel to explain the pregnancy to Joseph.

Joseph Marries Mary
Joseph Marries Mary
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Joseph’s love for Mary played a key role in his decision to protect her reputation even in the event of ending the engagement in obedience to Jewish law. However, God stepped in to remove the law from his consideration. The dream encounter with an angel was sufficient to resolve his concern because his love for Mary and commitment to their engagement were more important to him than any law. A man less committed to his fiancée would have dismissed the dream and proceeded with divorce. But the dream was sufficient for Joseph.

We can understand their love better by considering how they qualified to be chosen. Joseph could not have been the only descendant of David at the right age at that time. Nor was Mary the only virgin engaged to be married. One thing unique about the couple is their love for each other. Their love prepared their heart to deal with the complicated challenges from extraneous pregnancy among a young couple. Their faith of God also was important. However, their love for each other was the foundation that provided opportunity for their faith. Their concerns regarding the challenges and choices for resolving the concerns were based on love. Then, their faith helped them find acceptable resolution of the concerns. Love prepared their heart and their home for God’s intervention.

Summary of What We Learned

Love prepares husband and wife to deal with challenges and receive and accept God’s intervention.

Mary and Joseph relied on love to deal with human challenges they faced as part of their call to become parents of the Messiah. Mary was concerned about potential effects of the pregnancy on her relationship with Joseph. She surrendered her concerns to God. Joseph, on his part, was aware of Mary’s extraneous pregnancy but determined to protect her from public disgrace in the event of terminating the engagement in obedience to Jewish law. However, God sent him an angel to explain Mary’s pregnancy. Their love for each other prepared their heart to receive and execute their unique call and may well have been the reason they were chosen.

More Information

Please watch this bible study on video at VIDEO_LINK , listen to or download the audio at AUDIO_LINK . You can also download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation from PDF_LINK.

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