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Matthew 1:18-25, Jesus as Immanuel

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him
— Matthew 1:24

NL Daily Devotion for Sunday, December 23, 2018


by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff

Main Idea: Joseph would not live with the shame of scandal; instead he embraced the challenge with the presence of God as his strength.

Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth story shares the story from Joseph’s perspective. A man of means, he is looking forward to marrying a young woman when she suddenly turns up pregnant. His world is turned upside down. How could he marry someone who has been unfaithful? But if he exposed her, she would certainly be put to death, and he would live with the shame of a scandal. It was no easy choice.

But God sent an angel to make the decision clear—marry the young girl and raise God’s child as his own. And the child will be called, “Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” At a time when Joseph likely felt completely isolated and alone, God sent God’s presence in the form of an angel, and promised God’s continued presence in the form of a child. Joseph was not alone. Joseph would not live with the shame.

Isolation is shame’s best tool. When we are experiencing an event or behavior that makes us feel shame, the shame is strengthened when we keep it to ourselves, when we withdraw from others to hide it from them. The way to heal shame is to accept the event or behavior, even to embrace it, and to share it. Joseph accepted Mary would deliver a child that was not his. He embraced the challenge of raising God’s child. And his story, once shared with the world, made him a hero with generations forever.

Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading:

Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
   and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Earlier Event: December 22
Isaiah 44:1-8, God's Blessing on Israel