It was one thing for the angel of God to appear to Zechariah and proclaim the coming birth of John to he and Elizabeth. Their old age raised doubts in his mind. Mary had responded with awe and worshipful wonder when she received the news that she herself, though a virgin, would conceive and give birth to the Messiah. It is another thing for Joseph to believe. Zechariah had questioned the voice of Gabriel. Joseph is a righteous man, he fears God and is not questioning God’s word or messenger. He is questioning the faithfulness of the woman to whom he was betrothed.
Mat 1:18-25 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. (19) And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. (20) 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. (21) She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (22) All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: (23) “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (24) When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, (25) but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Joseph was a just man. Betrothal of the time was a binding relationship and divorce was necessary to separate the two though the marriage had not been consummated. He is a just man and justice requires an adulterous woman to be stoned. It appears, due to her pregnancy that she has been an adulteress, unfaithful to their commitment to one another. So his desire to put her away quietly is not just a desire for justice but also for mercy. He reflects the heart of our just and merciful God. The Lord sent an angel to Joseph to announce the miraculous nature of the conception of this child.
If Joseph is relieved that the woman he loves has not been unfaithful, how much more it must be to process the fact that this child will be the messiah. He is to be named Jesus. “The Lord Saves.”
In this revelation God is revealing the nature of the salvation that Jesus will bring. It is not salvation from Roman oppression but salvation for God’s people from their sins. This is the miracle of his coming. Immanuel, God with us. It is our sin that separates us from our Holy God. Jesus has come to reconcile us again.
It is easy to look at the sins of our world or the specific sins of other people. Jesus came to save you from your sin. He came that you might be reconciled to God whom you were at enmity with because of your rebellion. This is a great mercy. This is a great miracle. Will you rise up today and obey the message of the Lord. Look by faith today to Jesus and be saved.