Two Joyful Households
When Mary was back in Nazareth, Joseph the carpenter walked around with sadness written all over his face. His heart was so full of pain that he could hardly continue his work. His thoughts tormented him. What had happened to Mary, the young woman he was to marry? Why had she stayed in Judea for so long? Why did she act so silent and strange in his presence, as if she were hiding something from him?
Joseph soon discovered her secret: Mary was with child.
Joseph was shocked. To him it was horrible news, for he knew that it was not his child. Joseph and Mary weren't even married yet!
Mary must have deceived him in secret. Perhaps that was why she had stayed so long in Judea.
Joseph would never have suspected such a thing from Mary. Because he was a good and gentle man, however, he did not want to make a public issue of it."I will not tell anyone how poorly she has treated me," he thought to himself."I will leave her quietly and go somewhere else to live." But even as he made his new plans, he was in the depths of despair.
For the third time, an angel came to the earth from heaven. This angel addressed Joseph in a dream.
"Joseph, son of David," he said,"Mary has not deceived you. Take her as your wife, for the child in her womb is God's own child. You must name the child Jesus, that is, Savior, for He will free the people from their sins."
Joseph did just as the angel said. He did not understand what was going on, but he believed.
Joseph's joy returned - greater and more glorious than ever. Soon he and Mary were married. He brought Mary to his house and cared for her. Together they awaited the great miracle.
By that time, the miracle at Elizabeth's house had taken place. The child promised by God was born. All the neighbors and relatives joined the aged parents in their joy.
On the eighth day they came together to celebrate and to give the child a name. Everyone expected him to be named Zechariah, after his father.
Elizabeth shook her head."No," she said,"he will be called John."
"John?" the people asked, surprised."You can't call him John! There's no one in your family with that name. Just wait-we'll ask Zechariah. He'll know what to call him." But Zechariah took his tablet and wrote,"His name is John."
No one knew what to think of that. Just then Zechariah began to speak. His period of punishment was over. Everything had happened just as the angel had said it would, and Zechariah had obediently named the child John.
Zechariah finally had his voice back. All the words that passed over his lips were words of blessing. The Holy Spirit filled his heart. Zechariah became a prophet.
Like Mary, Zechariah sang a song of praise, a song in which he gave expression to his deep joy:"Blessed be the God of Israel, the Lord who has remembered His people."
All who heard Zechariah's song were amazed. Throughout the country of Judea, people eagerly discussed the wonderful event that had taken place in Zechariah's house.
As the boy grew and walked through the hills, people watched him. They asked themselves,"What will he become when he grows up?"
When the boy became a man, the people hardly saw him, for he wandered in the wilderness. He waited there, alone, listening for the voice of God. He was waiting until his Master would need him.