The Gospel of Matthew starts in a remarkable way. Right from the beginning, Jesus coming into the world means people have to make decisions.
Put yourself in Joseph’s place. Mary, the woman you’re betrothed to, is pregnant, and you know the baby isn’t yours. She swears that she’s been faithful to you, that she’s pregnant not by man but through the power of the Holy Spirit. You love her and want badly to believe her, but this is a thing unheard of. How can you accept this incredible claim? It flies in the face of everything you know to be true. You have to quietly send Mary away from you. The law says she should be stoned, but you don’t want that. Enough has been lost already.
Friends, God’s plan for Joseph and his family was so incredible he could not accept it until an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and confirmed Mary’s story. Even then, he could have decided to send Mary away. Even then, he faced a hard choice. To take Mary as his wife meant embracing stigma and scandal. To believe and obey God meant losing reputation and standing in the world. Tongues would always wag about the circumstances of Jesus’s birth. But Joseph chose to trust God. He chose to believe God’s unbelievable plan, to take Mary as his wife, and to become the earthly father of the Son of God.