In Luke 1:31, the Angel Gabriel gives the good news to Mary, ‘You will now conceive a son, and you will name him Jesus’. It is important for us to know Luke 1: 31, to fully understand the content, context and importance of the dream (Matthew 1:18-25).
In fact, it was good news, a very good news for the humanity but not for Mary and Joseph. Rather it was a news that shattered Mary and Joseph’s life. It was a news that forced both Mary and Joseph to tremble.
According to Mathew 1:18, Mary and Joseph were just engaged, and she was found pregnant before they were even married. Pregnancy before the marriage was not at all accepted in the Jewish law. It is to note that, there was no death penalty in Hebrew law for property crimes, but for adultery, there was a very stern punishment – stoning to death.
Mary of Nazareth, unwed and pregnant, knew the punishment she would be facing — stoning. Therefore, the good news brought by Angel Gabriel created fear, anxiousness, dread, distress etc. Moreover, the stigma associated for an unmarried woman becoming pregnant, was therefore beyond acceptable. On the other hand, the good news not only put Joseph in a situation which was awkward but difficult and life changing as well. It was an unprecedented otherwise unique situation.
However, despite the life-changing situation, Joseph was a “fair-just man who was unwilling to put her to shame and therefore, resolved to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19). Yet, not many songs are sung about Joseph, but he proves his faithfulness, first to Mary and then, more importantly, to God.
The angel gave Joseph five important details in “the Dream.”
i. First, it is God’s will that he should marry Mary.
ii. Mary’s pregnancy is supernatural, it is miraculous, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit.
iii. The baby will be a boy.
iv. He will name him ‘Jesus.’
v. His baby boy will be the Savior, and He will save His people from their sins.
The DREAM that Joseph had was not an ordinary dream because it was a dream where the message of Angel Gabriel became the good news for humanity including Mary and Joseph. It was a dream that changed the whole course of the situation – it was dream that convinced the whole humanity. The DREAM that Joseph had was not an ordinary dream because it was a dream that brought solace, calmed the restless, fearful and dreadful heart of Mary and Joseph. It was a dream that led Mary and Joseph to surrender before God and to accept the message of Angel Gabriel.
In other words, it was only through this dream that the message of Angel Gabriel was recognized and acknowledged as the good news. It was only through the intervention of this “DREAM” that Joseph could accept the angel’s message that saved both Mary’s life and the life of her unborn baby, the Incarnation of God. The dream that Joseph had was different because it calmed the perplexed souls of Mary and Joseph and brought them together as the mother and father of Jesus.
Christmas is real in our lives because of Joseph’s DREAM. If he would have not had the dream, the birth of Jesus would have been impossible because no one would have saved Mary but stoned her to death. Today even during this Pandemic, we are preparing for yet another Christmas because 2000 years back, Joseph had a DREAM that he could not escape, and compelled him to accept Mary as his wife and to surrender his whole doubts and questions. We are preparing for yet another Christmas because 2000 years back, Joseph had a DREAM that awoke him and made him accept the challenges ahead of him. Christmas is alive because of Joseph’s DREAM.
Though we all are anticipating for another Christmas this year, deep down we are scared, we are endangered because of Covid-19. To celebrate Christmas keeping in mind the SOP – we cannot imagine celebrating Christmas by maintaining social distance with no shaking of hands, no hugging our dear ones, but just with sanitizers in our hands, mask in our face and some in total isolation or quarantine etc. is not easy.
In fact, all of us are shaken and shattered in one way or the other like Mary and Joseph. However, in the midst of the situation we are in at present in our lives, may we ask Christ to give us a new Dream that will awaken us from our fears and uncertainties, a dream that will enable us to prepare to accept the challenges that are ahead of us, a dream that will empower us, a dream that will change our lives, a dream that will enable us to extend our love to the known and unknown, a dream to be more faithful, strong and above all, a dream that will draw us more closer to God.
Dr. Moakumla Longkumer presently serves on the Faculty at the Allahabad Bible Seminary
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