The story of the virgin birth bothers a lot of people.


“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

When this message comes to Joseph in a dream, he abandons his plans to divorce Mary and steps up to the responsibility of being a human father to the Son of God.

Joseph doesn’t get a lot of attention or recognition, but it matters so much that he was the kindhearted, merciful, responsible man who stepped up to help Mary and raise Jesus.

The story of the virgin birth bothers a lot of people. It has been abused to paint sex as somehow dirty (and therefore being far removed from the incarnation), and beyond all the pitfalls of judgmentalism it opens, it defies science. But whether or not you believe in the virgin birth, it is important to understand that Jesus was not Joseph’s biological son. Jesus’s questionable parentage put him in solidarity with the fatherless, who were among the most marginalized people of the ancient world.

And it matters that Joseph had planned the most merciful course of action when he discovered Mary was pregnant by… someone else. Instead of having her stoned or humiliated, he planned to divorce her quietly. But when he learns that the child is conceived by the Holy Spirit, he steps into the role of father. Raising a child is tough; raising the Son of God must be infinitely moreso.

It matters that Joseph didn’t run away. And it matters that he was kind. Jesus must have looked to Joseph as a role-model; to be human is to learn from the people closest to you. It matters that Joseph followed the most merciful interpretation of his Jewish tradition (as seen by his relationship with Mary); Jesus learns to value mercy and expand upon it at least partially through Joseph’s example. 

And through Joseph’s adoption of Jesus, we see an expansion of the concept of family. Jesus will continue to expand our understanding of family and kin, extending our circles of love wide enough to embrace the whole world.

What would the world be like if we could all have dreams that help us move past our fears? Where do we see people bravely following their dreams to transform a harsh world into a merciful world?


The Olive

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Sometimes our dreams give us the courage to follow Jesus, just as it gave Joseph the courage to help raise him. So come dream with Lindsey and Adam every Wednesday, live, at 11 am CT/ 9 am PT on the Raven Foundation Facebook page.