Immanuel, God With Us
by Marilyn Roberts
Have you ever wondered why God chose Mary and Joseph to parent our Lord, Jesus? The Gospel of Luke tells us why God chose Mary. (Luke 1:26-38) And according to Matthew’s Gospel, Joseph was an honorable man. (Matthew 1:18-25) The Scriptures don’t detail the conversation between Mary and Joseph after the angel, Gabriel’s announcement. I believe, however, that what transpired between them and their ultimate acceptance of God’s will and purpose was vitally important. Their agreement to God’s will for their lives ushered to humanity Immanuel; God with us (Matthew 1:23)!
For a few moments, I’d like to imagine what their conversation might have been when Mary told Joseph about her visitor. The following words are only my thoughts based on human behavior.
[[She sat nervously waiting for Joseph’s arrival. She must find a way to tell him about her encounter with the angel of the Lord. The angel said God had favored her and chosen her to carry the Son of God. It sounded unbelievable! But wasn’t that what the prophecy foretold? “Behold, the virgin shall be with child…” She was humbled before the angel and agreed to be obedient to the will of God.
Now she had to tell Joseph she was pregnant. Would he accept her explanation? The formal public ceremony of betrothal had taken place, and everyone knew she belonged to Joseph. Although they were not yet married, in the eyes of the Law, they were already man and wife. If he didn’t believe her, he had every right to have her stoned!
When Joseph arrived, he smiled at her. She loved the way his eyes lit up when he saw her. She felt blessed to know that he loved her. Joseph was an honorable man, would he believe her? She looked down focusing on her hands in her lap.
“Mary, are you alright?”
“I have something to share with you.”
He sat beside her and smiled again silently thanking God for this beautiful, virtuous woman. “What is it?”
“I was alone tending to chores, and I had what I thought was a vision. The angel of the Lord appeared and spoke to me.”
Joseph leaned in, “What did he say?”
“He greeted me by saying God highly favored me and that God was with me. He told me God loved me and I was blessed! I was puzzled by his greeting, and I was fearful. He told me not to be afraid.” She stopped and took a deep breath. He saw her hesitation.
“It’s alright Mary, continue, what else did the angel say?”
“He said I was going to conceive a son. When I asked how, since I was not yet married, he told me that the Holy Spirit of God would overshadow me and the child would be the Son of God!”
“I don’t understand.”
She breathed deeply again. “Joseph” she paused and turned to look into his eyes, “I’m pregnant.”
Her announcement startled him. “What?”
Her words rushed out, begging him to understand. “It happened to me just as the angel said it would.”
Joseph shook his head, “That’s impossible Mary. Surely, you’re mistaken. Are you sure?”
“Yes,” she nodded, “I am pregnant.”
“There is only one way….” She interrupted him. “I have not betrayed you, Joseph. It has happened to me the way the angel described!”
He stood up and walked a few paces from her. “This doesn’t make sense!” When he turned around, he saw her tears. He wanted to comfort her, but her story was inconceivable! Mary saw the hurt in his eyes. He turned away from her the second time.
He shook his head, “I have to go. I need to figure this out.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
You can imagine that Joseph’s thoughts had his mind spinning. This wonderful woman that he loved so deeply was certainly not in her right mind. What had happened to her that she could not share? Had she sinned before God and been with another? Did she expect him to believe that she saw a vision of the angel of the Lord and that’s how she got pregnant! Except, she did expect him to believe her. She had never lied to him before. But her story was preposterous; it couldn’t have happened the way she said it did. His heart ached. Oh, how he loved her. Up until now, their relationship had been respectable and righteous before the Lord their God. He loved her too much to shame her. He didn’t have the strength to endure the public ridicule she would receive if word got out. He would divorce her and put her away privately. It was the least he could do. He decided to tell Mary of his plans in the morning.
“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through His prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” Matthew 1:20-23 (NLT). When Joseph awakened, he knew what he must do. He set out to find Mary.
Mary turned to see Joseph walking toward her. His steps were determined; he had made a decision. She felt her heart beat a little faster. Had God spoken to him? Had God assured him that she was not lying and that she hadn’t betrayed him? Since their last conversation, she hadn’t stopped praying.
Joseph approached Mary and took her hands in his. He spoke tenderly to her, wanting to ease any uncertainty she might have. “Mary.”
“I had a dream last night. The angel of the Lord confirmed your story. The child within you is the Holy One of God; he told me to name Him Jesus.” He paused to breathe. There was so much He wanted to say. “I was reminded of the prophet’s words, “The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
Tears began to flow from Mary’s eyes as he continued, “To spare you any embarrassment, we shall be married right way.”]]
This young couple’s obedience and sacrifice paved the way for the birth of our Savior. Allow me to repeat myself. I believe what transpired between Mary & Joseph was an ultimate acceptance of God’s will and purpose. Their agreement to God’s will for their lives ushered to humanity Immanuel; God with us!
The plan of God to reconcile man to Himself began with the birth of Jesus. His name, Immanuel, secured the promise and reminded them and us of God’s ever-abiding presence. He promises never to leave us or forsake us.
When Jesus was born, there appeared in the heavens a host of angels praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men” Luke 2:14 (NKJV)!
Through the person of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit, God is with us always!