18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they cane together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19. 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.
20 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. 21 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.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke u, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Without goodness, life can feel cold, difficult and unbearable. Without goodness, we can’t go on. Goodness brings light and warmth into our lives. So it is important for us to experience goodness from time to time. Not just experience it, but to recognize it when it comes.
Goodness comes to us in different forms. Someone giving us a gentle pat on the back when we are
feeling low and discouraged. Seeing someone lend a helping hand to another person in need. A word of assurance and encouragement when we are going through a difficult time.
Whatever it may be, goodness brightens our life. It frees us from our dark and negative thoughts. It reminds us that we are not alone. It gives us the strength to keep going, especially when we are gripped by uncertainty.
Joseph experienced goodness in an unexpected way.He was in a difficult situation. He discovered that Mary was pregnant with a child that wasn’t his. At the time, Jewish marriage began with an engagement period that lasted for about a year. During this period, the man and the woman lived like husband and wife, but without the physical relationship. The only way the engagement could be broken was either by death or divorce. By law, Joseph had to divorce Mary and let her go—if he wanted to spare her of accusation and shame. There really was no other way. He felt confused, torn, and all alone.
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
Joseph was going to follow through with his decision. But it was at that moment that goodness came knocking on his door.
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.Matthew 1:20
An angel came to him in his dream. Angels aren’t the white-robed, harp-playing, winged creatures that we usually think of. Angels are messengers of God’s good news. They come to us unexpectedly, without warning. That’s why you usually find them saying, “Do not be afraid.”
The angel came into Joseph’s life like a ray of sunlight on a cold and dreary day. Joseph didn’t know what to make of the news that his fiancée became pregnant because of the Holy Spirit. It probably was too difficult for him to digest at once. Virgin birth? How does that work? It’s still hard for us to understand today. Joseph also knew that he would have to make an even more difficult decision by staying with Mary. But with the angel’s visit, he realized that he wasn’t alone. He realized that God was with him somehow. This gave him the courage to trust in God’s goodness and keep on going. He knew that no matter what happened, he’d be okay.
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
Life of faith is not about being brilliant, special and extraordinary.Life of faith is about trusting in God’s goodness. Joseph was an ordinary person, like you and I. So was Mary. But they trusted in God’s goodness. Mary was also perplexed when the angel came to her. o But in the end, she said, “Here am I; let it be with me according to your word.” Through them, Jesus—our Immanuel—came into this world.
Immanuel. In Hebrew, “El” is a short form for “Elohim”. Elohim is the name for God. So Immanu-el means, “God with us”. Matthew explained it to us through Joseph’s story—
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).Matthew 1:22, 23
Jesus is God with us. God with us means God is faithful. God’s faithfulness is God’s goodness. That’s why we wait expectantly for his coming. God’s goodness came into this dark and cold world.
Remember Immanuel. When you are down, don’t be too sad. When you face difficult situations, don’t be afraid. You are not alone. Immanuel, God is with you. God’s goodness will follow you wherever you go. You will experience his goodness in unexpected ways. Someone will come and give you a helping hand. You will know that you are okay. God’s goodness will give you the confidence to keep going. David confessed in his psalm—
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.Psalm 23:6
Remember to share God’s goodness with others. Don’t just hoard all the goodness for yourself. Be the messengers of God’s goodness. Spread the warmth to those around you. I’m glad to see that many of you decided to volunteer for Out of the Cold. Christmas can be a lonely time for some people. People might be struggling and hurting inside. The best we can do is be kind to one another.