An Angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in Matthew 1:18-25, to explain the Holy Conception that Mary would be mother to a son and they were name Jesus Christ. The message of this passage is open often as a part of the Apostles’ creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ his only son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.”

Matthew presents Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. A betrothed virgin would give birth. Joseph was faced with a difficult choice, but the angel appears before him, so Joseph chose to obey the angel’s commandment to marry Mary. Joseph action revealed four admirable qualities; be righteousness, be discreet, be responsive to God and self-discipline. What surprised us in these scriptures?

Are we surprised by the Annulment to Joseph? Mary was approach by the angel at the well that she was the chosen one to bring forth the birth of Jesus Christ. We may be surprised by its tardiness. Mary was informed, but we don’t know how Joseph got his first information — but it came before he received the divine announcement. We don’t know why there was this delay to Joseph. He was reluctant to marry Mary until the Angel confronted him.

Are we surprised by the faith of Joseph? He believed the unbelievable. Of course, Joseph wanted to believe it. It is important for us to understand that no amount of evidence will convince one who does not want to believe in Christ, and for those who want to believe there is plenty of evidence. Faith in Christ is more than an intellectual decision. It is a moral decision. We know what it will mean if we believe. It will mean that we must change our lives, and some are not prepared to do that. On that basis they decide not to believe.

Are we surprised by one chosen to nurture Jesus? They were simple unsophisticated, and probably uneducated. That does not mean that they were not intelligent. Read Mary’s song, which she composed after the Annunciation, and you will see that some of the genius of her ancestor David was in her genes. The apostle Paul reminds us that often God chooses those we would not expect (1 Cor.:26-29).

Are we surprised by the brevity of the text? There is much more that we would like to know. What conversation took place between Mary and Joseph? Did he feel anger, bitterness, sorrow or disbelief until the truth was made know to him? The text does not tell us these things.

Are we surprised by the long shadow it casts? This text affects us in strange way. It does not affect us as history normally does. We read “Unto you is born this day a Savior” and we do not think of “this day” as “that” day. We think of it in terms of “our day,” of our need for a Savior, and the tidings of great joy come to us as certainly as they came to others long ago.

J.B. Morris leads the Rock Hill United Methodist Church.