Advent: Day Seventeen

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.” —Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph is hardly the most central character in the story of Christmas. His participation, his type of masculinity, is not the kind that is immediately obvious or valued in Christian circles. He never wrote a book about changing international mission and he had no oratory gift. Nor was he about beards, beer, and hunting. Joseph was a man who aspired to live a quiet life, to wake up in the mornings, go to work every day, love his wife, and raise his children. But he is remarkable because God chose this man to be Jesus’ adoptive father. The God of the universe picked Joseph.

If we were to place ourselves in Joseph’s shoes during the moment he heard Mary was pregnant, knowing the babe couldn’t possibly be his, it would be easy to understand his confusion and pain. He remained just in his actions toward Mary, not wanting to shame her, but he was determined to divorce Mary. Joseph stood at the greatest crossroads in his entire existence.

His story is not about being the perfect man; it’s the story of God intervening so that Joseph would not blow up his calling. Consider the advice Joseph was likely being given by everyone around him, what the religious culture of his day was telling him, what everyone in the synagogue was saying. “Cut your losses and get out of there.” Or what about his sinful flesh? “Protect yourself at all costs.”

Instead of letting Joseph walk away from his destiny, God intervened, interrupted, sent an angel messenger to tell Joseph, “You’re about to miss the very purpose for which I created you.” Not only was Joseph’s calling one that wrecked his life, but it was dependent on divine interruption!

The very reason for Joseph’s creation, the very destiny, the absolute purpose of his life was to be a part of this redemptive story. This is the story of gospel interruption for all of us.

The TRUTH is, if the God of the universe doesn’t interrupt your life to intervene, you will waste the breath in your lungs. Life is like a wisp of smoke, here and gone. Everything in you will drive you to miss your calling and to make your life about you and about building your own kingdom with your name on it. Your life’s purpose will be to seek joy, fulfillment, and life in money, pleasure, fame, security, success… Everything in your brokenness will tell you, this is the path you need to take, the path of saving your own life and finding your own meaning, joy, and depth. But that is actually a path to destruction, death, and hell.

God, in His mercy, comes and interrupts our story of rebellion, and He tells us, “No, no, no, it’s not about your kingdom, and your name, and all these things that you think are going to fulfill you.”

Joseph’s story—our story—is all about Jesus. The way you fulfill your calling is by surrendering and knowing Jesus, giving your life to Jesus, worshipping Him, and following Him. The secret to a man’s life will not be found in a wife, job, kids—those are good things, but they are not God things. The secret of a man’s life is about knowing and walking with Christ and seeing what He did for us on the cross 2,000 years ago.

Meditation: This might be the closest you’ll ever come to an angel appearing in your darkest moment. To some, God has been sending “angels” for years, trying to intervene. He has sent pastors, family members, friends, or even strangers, and you have been ignoring and ignoring. Stop rebelling. Stop wasting your life on things that won’t give you meaning or depth. Jesus gives meaning. Jesus gives depth.

Prayer: God, in Your grace, you have interrupted and intervened in the plans I had for my life. I confess that this life is not about me and my security, kingdom, or fame. It is not about pleasure, money, or escaping reality. It is about Jesus. Your Son saves my life and gives it meaning, joy, and depth. Thank You for giving Your Son as the only way for my salvation.