Inspirations

Posts tagged ‘Elect Lady’

THE ANGEL APPEARS TO JOSEPH by Beth Piepenburg

474px-'Joseph's_Dream',_painting_by_Gaetano_Gandolfi,_c._1790Mt 1:20-21. But while he pondered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, the son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife: for he who is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son, and she shall call his name JESUS (YESHUA), for he shall save (yawshah) his people from their sins.”

What was Joseph to do? As his weary mind was overwhelmed with his predicament, he fell asleep while seeking God’s help. Surely, you have had life situations that left you tossing and turning during the night, too. Lo and behold, an angel appeared in his dream! The angelic message served two purposes, one of which is to help Joseph understand his immediate circumstances, and the other will be captured in my next story.

Whenever the word, behold, is used in Scripture, it is a signal for the reader to pay attention. Recognizing the word behold is not just some kind of archaic introductory word, but rather the word is alerting the reader that an angel of the Lord has appeared to Joseph. Angels are very important to Jewish culture, because they are sent from God to deliver a special message. Interestingly, Matthew records four angelic appearances. Three times an angel appeared to Joseph concerning the Christ child, and the fourth time an angel appeared to the women who came to the tomb of Jesus. However, the focus isn’t upon the angel, but the message.

First, the angel addresses Joseph by his name, and then by his ancestry since Joseph is the son of David. Now that the angel has Joseph’s full attention, he addresses Joseph’s problem. Fear! Although I think this was a cautious fear on Joseph’s part, he needed to be assured that God was involved in his and Mary’s lives in a unique way. The reason he was not to fear is that the conception was the work of the Holy Spirit.

Then, the angel foretells that Mary will have a son and that she is to name him Jesus (Yeshua)[1]. Depending on the community, Jewish naming of the firstborn could be done by either the father or the mother. However, the angel Gabriel had already told Mary that she was to call the baby’s name, Jesus[2]. The reason his name is to be called Jesus (Yeshua) is that He shall save (yawshah) his people from their sins. Notice the Hebrew word play between Jesus (Yeshua) and save (yawshah).

Another reason the angel is specifically saying that Mary is to call the name of the baby Jesus (Yeshua) has to do with her significant role. Besides needing a personal Savior, she is the woman chosen by God to bear the Seed of salvation promised after the fall of mankind[3]. As Eve birthed sin into the world by her act of disobedience, Mary has to be responsible to speak out the name of the child as Jesus (Yeshua), a savior for mankind. As Adam had supported Eve in their disobedience, Joseph is to support Mary in their obedience to God. Also, Mary, the Elect Lady (2 John), symbolizes those who would recognize their own necessity for a personal savior and become future members of the universal Church, the body of Christ[4].

For Joseph to understand his role as protector of Mary and Jesus, he needed to seek the Lord. However, what God had planted in Mary, the promise to Adam and Eve for the redemption of mankind, was so much greater than Joseph could have imagined.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.


[1] Since the Gospel of Matthew was written in the Aramaic Hebrew, I reference the oldest Aramaic Peshitta copies. Older Greek and Latin variants are divided as to the use of the pronoun, she or you, because of the ambiguity in the Aramaic. The only clues to what is correct is context.

[2] Luke 1:31

[3] Gen 3

[4] As a Protestant, my research using ancient Christian writings broadens my understanding of the Orthodox.

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