Who is that with the angel in the manger scene today? He’s the often overlooked earthly father of Jesus, Joseph of Nazareth.
Joseph was betrothed to Mary, when he was told she was expecting a child. The story Mary told him about being visited by an angel was too difficult to believe. He assumed she had committed adultery, a sin for which he could denounce her and she would be stoned to death. But Joseph was a loving, honorable man. He decided to send her away somewhere where she could have her baby.
Now we come to the angel. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him that the child in her womb was the promised Messiah, the Son of God. This fulfilled the promise in Isaiah 7:14 that a virgin would give birth to a son, and He would be Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
Joseph was also told to name this child Yeshua (Jesus) because He would save His people from their sins. The name Yeshua means “Yahweh saves.” The words of the angel, “for He will save His people from their sins,” was an explanation of why Joseph was to give this name to this child. Now Joseph knew that God was fulfilling His promise to come and save His people, and that he (Joseph) was to play an important role in God’s plan.
We believe that God came to earth in the person of Jesus to save us, and the whole world, from sin. The world finds this hard to believe, but God has told us this truth in His Word and we believe it. We have the task of preparing people for Jesus’ return by sharing the message of why He came the first time. We proclaim the Law against sin to convict sinners. We then proclaim the Good News that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead to assure us that all His promises are true. Like Joseph, we believe, live in, and proclaim a seemingly unbelievable truth.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel, hymn 357, verse 1, Lutheran Service Book O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.