My Musings – Hard pressed (afflicted, oppressed, harassed), on every side. How could one help from being crushed (completely subdued)? How oppressed and harassed do you think an unmarried and pregnant woman might be in first century Israel, where death by stoning was a possibility? It might be difficult to imagine in our culture today, but the affliction would most likely have come from every side – family, friends, synagogue, and most importantly her betrothed, Joseph. Elsewhere in the text it is clearly stated Mary was found with child before they “came together.” How favored would Mary be, in Joseph’s or anyone else’s eyes, after she could no longer hide the pregnancy? How could she not be afraid? How could she not be crushed?
And what about Joseph? He knew the child could not be his, and Mary’s explanation would have sounded preposterous. How could he not be crushed by the news that she was pregnant? Perhaps it is understandable that he needed corroboration of Mary’s story from a credible source – an angel of the Lord. He too was told not to be afraid. To go ahead and make Mary his wife. In the eyes of everyone watching to see how he would react, this would all but confirm (at least to them) that Joseph was the father. What would this do to his reputation as a “righteous man?”
Did the stigma ever leave Joseph and Mary? We know it did not leave Jesus. When the religious leaders told Jesus that they knew who their father was, the implication was that Jesus did not know who his father was. In their eyes, Joseph may have made Mary and “honest woman,” but Jesus was still considered an illegitimate child.
Interesting isn’t it? Who the world considered illegitimate and born in sin, was the only person who could legitimately save us from our sin.
My Advice – Feeling oppressed this Christmas? Jesus is saying to you, “do not be afraid.” Take His yoke upon you. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30, NIV 1984). You may be hard pressed, but you will not be crushed.
Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”