Advent Devotional: Week 4, Part 3

By Bruce Benedict & Elliot Grudem  /  

week four of advent

The Darker Side of Christmas #3 – To Divorce Her Quietly

Even in the midst of these tremendous stories of God’s miraculous power in the birth
of Jesus, we find that the humanity of the other characters remains transparent. Both Matthew and Luke want us to know that from the very beginning Jesus’ story is fraught
with trials and sufferings. Even in the midst of Mary finding out she is pregnant with
a child from the Holy Spirit, Matthew tells us that Joseph considered divorcing her silently, assuming that she has committed adultery, a sin punishable by death. Committed adultery—in the midst of their betrothal to be married! This is pretty scandalous stuff to be published in what we often see portrayed as the pristine birth of shiny baby Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-20
18 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.”

Shedding some light...

This scene reminds us of the stress, humanity, and conflict of our own lives. The holiday season is a time that emerges to us in both the blessings of family life and the pain of family dysfunction. Even as the Lord speaks to Joseph, we need the Lord to speak into our relationships so that they too can reflect his hope and power.

Children’s Prayer

Father God, help us to love our family well.

Adults’ Prayer

Dear Father, we are so thankful that you speak into not only our own lives, but into our families and spiritual communities. Forgive us for the ways we seek to arrogantly stay independent. Forgive us for the pride in our hearts that often shows itself through the ways we refuse to allow others to help and serve us. Forgive us for the anger we feel and conflicts that arise when people don’t give us what we want. Continue to speak into our relationships—bringing honesty, hope, humility, and healing. And continue to speak through our relationships, that as we see the ways your Spirit is working in others, we can understand you better and praise you for the ways you continue to make your children more and more like your son.

Advent Singing: O Come All Ye Faithful

Advent Devotional Guide Download

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Compilation and Text
Bruce Benedict

Elliot Grudem

Ladye Jane Vickers

Amelia Reynolds

PO Box 10095 | Raleigh, NC 27605
919-546-0515 |