Joseph was a just and compassionate man. He did not want to shame Mary for the presumed adultery and decided to divorce her quietly. I imagine how deeply hurt this man must have been. He had deep feelings for this girl, as is clear from the way he responded to her adultery. Think about it! The love of your life shows up pregnant by another man, presumably, and all your hopes and plans are washed away in an instant. There must have been a great internal struggle for Joseph between his desire to keep the law and his love for Mary. He chose to do the hardest thing and send her away. I can’t help but think of all the “lost love” songs of my day. How can I live if living is without you? The world ended when I lost your love. Like Toni Braxton, you plead with the lost lover to “unbreak my heart.” The hopes and dreams of a normal happy life are gone. What becomes of the brokenhearted? I wonder if Joseph found comfort in the Scriptures, which talked about God’s love for the brokenhearted. It’s in the Law, the Prophets, and the writings. “God has made me forget my trouble (Gen. 41:51); God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction (Gen. 41:52); God heals the broken-hearted (Ps. 147:3); he has anointed me to bind up the broken-hearted (Isa. 61:1); the Lord saves the broken-hearted (Ps. 34:18); he adds no sorrow with his blessing (Prov. 10:22).”[1]

One night when Joseph wrestled with his loss, he received a heavenly visitor that dealt with his broken heart. Matthew 1:20 says, “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” An Angel told Mary to “fear not” when she was informed that she would have a child out of wedlock. She asks the angel “how can this be since I have not been with a man?” Mary knew that it was humanly impossible for her to have a child. The child would be a miraculous one conceived in her through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Angel explains, and Mary accepts his answer. Joseph is also told not to be afraid because this conception is a supernatural one. This reminds us of the angel that appeared to Abram and Sarah in Genesis informing them in their old age that they will have a son. Sarah laughs. Abram thinks he’s too old to father children, but the angel asks, “Is there anything too difficult for God?” The assumed answer of course is “no, nothing is impossible with God.” Both Joseph and Mary accept the supernatural explanation. In spite of it being contrary to everything they know and see, they set aside their fears and believed in the supernatural.

We celebrate Christmas each year with the proclamation of our belief in this supernatural event in the life of Joseph and Mary. I know it’s not scientific. I know it’s against everything we know of life and see around us. I know many theologians today speak of the virgin birth of Jesus as a myth that was made up by his followers to add credence to his teachings. Atheists and agnostics reject the miraculous in nearly all of its forms, as presented in the Bible. Only Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus today, but even Christians are becoming more and more skeptical. A writer for the Christian Post said, “While some might expect nonbelievers to wrestle with doubts about the Christmas story as relayed in the Bible, the new research says there are actually signs of growing doubts from Christian groups as well.”[2] I don’t care. I still believe in it. It’s the supernatural fulfillment of all of God’s promises in the Old Testament. Jesus, born of a virgin, is the one that brings us eternal life. If his birth, as told in the Gospels, is just a myth. I have plenty of reasons to be afraid of just about everything in life, especially its ending. Death is all that there is for us on this earth. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid.” Don’t be afraid because God cares for the brokenhearted, and he sent Jesus to bind up our wounds. Oh, death, where is your sting?

 [1] Day, A. Colin. 2009. Collins Thesaurus of the Bible. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Fewer Americans Believe Jesus Was Born of a Virgin: Study | U.S. News (