As Joseph entered his home he looked around. He dropped to his knees, his tear ducts had long since swollen shut from over-use.
“When I left this morning I couldn’t wait to tell Mary that we finished building our home ahead of schedule. Now, I don’t know what to think. This is all for nothing!” Joseph’s thoughts led to a prayer.
“Father God what do I do now? I thought Mary was so pure and trustworthy. Now, I can’t believe she’s pregnant. I know it’s not my baby in her. She said she would keep herself for me; and I promised the same for her. It’s too much for me to accept that she hasn’t been with another man. She claims to be carrying the Messiah from You. That is just too outlandish to believe! I know she’s special, but not to that extent. She’s just a common woman from Nazareth of all places. Isn’t Messiah to be born in Bethlehem?
“Her father quickly disowned her from the family as soon as he learned of the pregnancy. If it had been anybody else’s daughter he would have stoned her in the public square. He’s so pious of his priestly blood in his children. It’s such a ploy for power, marrying a woman from Aaron’s line. He was always taunting our Davidic heritage before that.
“I could divorce her publicly, but I don’t want to profit from this. I don’t want to stone her, either. It doesn’t seem right that the innocent child should have to pay for two adults’ mistake. There has to be a better way. As much as I don’t want to put them out on the street I can’t marry a woman I don’t trust. Mary said You sent an angel to tell her about this, if this is the Messiah then please send that angel to me too.”
Joseph’s options repeated in his head until exhaustion pulled him to the floor and he slept. When he awoke every hair on his body was standing straight up. “That had to be real. It was a dream, but it was my answer to prayer.”
“Father God, I don’t understand why You chose me to be the Abba of Your Son, but I will do all that I can to protect Him and Mary. I will not defile the womb by taking Mary as my wife in a physical way before the Messiah is born. I now see why You had this house come together so quickly while Mary was gone. I probably won’t be getting any help from anybody with what I’m about to do. Forgive others for their reactions to this situation, I can’t expect them to believe us; I didn’t believe it myself until the angel spoke to me. I won’t ask You to send an angel to everybody. It ‘s enough for me to know You have ordained this. I will finalize the marriage covenant with the priest and have Mary move in with me as soon as possible. Please give me the wisdom to do what I must do to bring up Your Son in the way He should go.”
Joseph probably wondered how they would get to Bethlehem for the birth of the Messiah until Caesar Augustus’ decree “forced” them to be there in time for the prophesied event. I don’t know if Mary’s labor pains began before they passed the BETHLEHEM CITY LIMITS sign, but the fact that so many Jews claimed ancestry to King David meant that there was no human place for the young couple who had to travel slower than the others because of this questionable pregnancy. News reached the town before they did so they had to find the only shelter they could find.
There probably wasn’t enough time for Joseph to clean the stable properly, adequate would have to suffice. Today’s health care professionals would be appalled at the conditions the Savior of the World was born in. Joseph was probably coached on what to do by Mary from what she had learned from being at the birth of John just six months ago. Joseph blushed when he saw Mary’s breast for the first time as he watched her give the Messiah His first human meal.
Carpentry work was probably scarce for this illegitimate ‘father’ in Nazareth, the hometown were Joseph was related to almost everybody. Bethlehem’s residents most likely had more need and less angst for a man of such skilled trade. Perhaps the inn keeper had Joseph do some carpentry work to pay for the use of the stable, then, word got out about his quality so they stayed in Bethlehem until the wise men arrived up to two years later.
Joseph is the unsung hero of the Christmas story; as many step-dads are. Blindsided by the unexpected pregnancy of his betrothed Mary, Joseph had a lot to sort through as to his future with this woman. But, once he knew the truth he stepped up and delivered like no one I ever met. Of course his society wasn’t as sex-saturated as ours is, but he still went beyond the call of duty to keep Mary pure until after Jesus’ birth.
The Jewish culture of his day held purity at a premium; not only purity of the marriage bed, but purity of their race. Joseph and Mary would undoubtedly be shunned by their families and friends. Have you ever held a conviction so strongly that you were willing to stick to it no matter what?
Their’s was probably an arraigned marriage, but the fact that Joseph was willing to be drawn into Mary’s predicament while not taking advantage of her, along with the protection he would need to step up to provide. I can imagine Mary’s love for this man was so strong by the time they were intimate that she couldn’t wait to give herself completely to him.
It leaves me with three words for Joseph. WHAT A MAN!
I’ll see you later. Wade