The late Tom Petty once sang that “the waiting is the hardest part.” I find that to be generally true. Most of us do not like waiting—whether it be in the line at the fast-food drive through, waiting on a response to your last text message, or waiting for the test results from your last doctor’s appointment. Be it just a few minutes, a few hours, or a few weeks, waiting really is the hardest part.
With that in mind, let’s visit Bethlehem the night of Jesus’s birth. After Matthew’s gospel makes a brief stop at Ancestry.com to fill us in on the geneology of Jesus, we are introduced to Mary and Joseph, a young couple that, by all accounts, have been waiting patiently for their wedding day to arrive. But there was a small bump in the road—or more accurately, a growing bump in Mary’s belly, as she is found to be with a child from the Holy Spirit.
It’s here that Matthew’s gospel narrows in on Joseph—what did he think about the matter? What would his response be? Understandably, Joseph is confused. But as the text points out, he was committed to handling the issue “in-house” rather than bringing public shame and humiliation on Mary—that is, until, an angel shows up in a dream with an important announcement (side note: maybe we should take more naps to make sure we don’t miss anything important).
What’s the announcement to Joseph? First, the angel tells Joseph to marry Mary, that it will be worth the wait. Second, the angel points out to Joseph that the child that Mary is carrying is actually the one that the whole world has been waiting for!
You see, the world had been waiting for this moment—and not just for minutes, hours, or weeks, but for hundreds and thousands of years. In Genesis 3 we see the entrance of sin into the world (vv. 7-13), followed by God’s physical separation from man (vv. 23-24). But between those two moments, there is a brief glimmer of hope—a promise that one day a child would be born to crush Satan, sin, and death (v. 15).
Which brings us back to Matthew 1:18-25. After hundreds and thousands of years of waiting, the promised child had arrived! Jesus had finally come to save his people from the sin that Adam and Even ushered in. Immanuel (“God with us”) had finally come to restore God’s presence with his people that was broken long ago when Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden. The waiting was over—and the waiting was worth it.
If nothing else, let Matthew 1:18-25 remind you that God is at work in your waiting. You might not be able to see it. You might not be able to feel it. You might have a lot of questions. But rest assured that, whether it’s days, months, or years, God is at work as you wait.