When Joseph found out that his fiancée was pregnant he was furious. She had committed adultery! She came up with some story about it being a baby from God but everyone knows that God only acts according to His Word and there are no cases in the Scriptures of a virgin birth. The law in Dt 22:23 was clear – this evil must be purged from the community. So he dragged her to the market square centre and together with the whole village stoned her to death and ensured that she and the fruit of that sinful union was wiped out.
Taken from “Not the Christmas Story”

It’s very easy for us to look at this story with the benefit of hindsight. The only reference to a virgin birth was with regards to a virgin (as in a young girl) in King Ahaz’s court (Isa 7). The prophecy had an immediate application that by the time she had given birth, God would have delivered them from the threat of Aram and Israel. There was nothing to suggest that this had another meaning hundreds of years later.

So if you are someone who believes God is limited to act according to what He has done in the past then you too would, without a doubt, have rejected Mary’s story. Even the faithful remnant who were waiting for the promised Messiah had no concept of His birth being anything other than that of a child born in the normal way.

Since the Christmas story is layered with so much sweetness that we don’t see how Joseph would react to this news. The Greek word, enthymēomai, which we translate as considered contains the root word thymos which means wrath or anger. A better translated would be “as Joseph fumed over this matter”.

But think about this for a moment.

Had Joseph kept the letter of the law, he would have stoned Mary and have killed Jesus with her.

This is a shocking thought – but it’s actually a prophetic image of what can happen when we constrain God to our understanding – we end up rejecting Christ.

The Pharisees, who thoroughly knew and obeyed the Scriptures, ended up rejecting Jesus because He did not act according to their understanding (Jn 5:39). They ended up claiming that Jesus did his miracles by the power of Satan (Mt 12:24) and in the end killed Christ.

This also happens today.

Case in point: Last week there were some brothers-in-Christ who were naming and shaming a pastor on Twitter because he did not agree with their very narrow view of Christ and salvation.  They called him a false teacher and refused to accept that he was a fellow brother.  Therefore in their condemnation they claimed that healings by this pastor were either fake or demonic.

History repeats itself.

Whenever we constrain God who “does a new thing” (Isa 43:19) and “does whatever he pleases” (Ps 115:3) we end up rejecting any person who doesn’t fit our belief system and rejecting Christ who lives within them.

Like in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Mt 13:24-30) – we should resist cutting down what we believe are the weeds and trust God’s judgement – otherwise even our good intentions will cut down the wheat as well.

Let us be slow to judge and keep our hearts open to a God that is beyond our understanding.


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