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 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 as he stood and paced.
“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’s 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 she had been anybody else’s daughter he would have had her stoned in the public square. He’s so pious of the priestly blood in his children. It’s such a ploy for power, marrying a woman from Aaron’s line. He’s always taunted 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 his bed 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 advantage of Mary as my wife in a physical way before Jesus 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 don’t expect 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.”
“I don’t know how all the details of prophesy will fit together, but I trust You will work all that out in its time. I just…WOW! The Messiah…and Mary…and me…WOW!”
Joseph is the unsung hero of the Christmas story, as many step-dads are. His decision to take on this role was all his to make. Sure, Mary would do her best to persuade him, but, in the end he still could have walked away and let God find someone else to fill that position. I’m sure somebody would want to be forever known as Jesus’ step-father. But, that’s not the quality God was looking for in the man He chose.
Micah 6:8 “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly before your God.”
Joseph fulfill all of these requirements. Let’s take a look at each one.
- He acted justly by weighing his options he could take in this case before he reacted. The law said an adulterous woman should be stoned. By refusing to stone Mary both she and the child inside her would live. An abortion wouldn’t erase the fact that she was apparently willing to have sex with another man.
- He showed mercy by the fact that he decided to divorce her privately. By dragging this through the courts he could have been paid the dowry Mary’s father had set aside for her marriage. Perhaps he thought Mary could live off that to begin her life as a single mom.
- He walked humbly before God by refusing to take advantage of his duty as a husband to have intercourse with his wife until after Jesus was born. Since Mary was early in her second trimester of pregnancy she was capable of fulfilling her wifely duty. Joseph’s stance shows how much he revered his Lord and God.
So, how well do you display the qualities of justice, mercy and humility? I only wish I could pass the test as well as Joseph did.
When you remember that Joseph didn’t have the advantage of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we do now it truly gives us pause to think about his character.
Now you see why God chose this young carpenter as Jesus’ step-dad.
The carpentry trade would easily transfer to Bethlehem so the young family could survive after their families returned to Nazareth. God knew their needs.
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 and provide; I can imagine Mary’s love for Joseph was so strong by the time they were intimate that she couldn’t wait to give herself to this man completely.
That leaves me with just three words for Joseph: WHAT A MAN!
I’ll see you later. Wade