Imagine this scene. Joseph leading a donkey-drawn carriage towards Bethlehem. Inside that carriage sits his pregnant wife, Mary. She was found to be pregnant before they had consummated their marriage! This would be the scandal of the town. Imagine the gossip and stares. Surely she was a promiscuous woman. And both of them are guilty of premarital sex!

A few months before, Joseph had to make a difficult decision. He could have easily exonerated himself by publicly exposing Mary’s perceived infidelity. But, in doing so, it would have led to Mary’s death (Deuteronomy 22:23-27). Joseph had wanted to break off the engagement discreetly, a course that would not shame or harm her (Matthew 1:19). But that was not to be. For an angel ordered him to proceed with marrying the pregnant Mary as planned, for “the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). And Joseph was to name the baby boy “Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

We’re not told how much the distraught and confounded man truly understood about his situation. But we are told that Joseph simply obeyed. He immediately “did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born” (Matthew 1:24-25).

Today, there’s not a hint of anything scandalous about Jesus’ birth, or that Jesus was an illegitimate son (John 8:41). Instead, there’s an inexplicable sacredness and indescribable awesomeness about a virgin who was with child.

The story of the unwed mother is the story of God’s power (Matthew 1:18), God’s salvation plan (Matthew 1:21), and God’s presence (Matthew 1:23). By God’s grace, we experience those same things today.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Timothy 6:3-21