“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18-25 ESV)
If you write for a Christian audience you are pretty much expected to write something either devotional or theological about Christmas.
It’s already been done over and over again by far more gifted writers than myself.
I was just going to let it go until this passage struck a chord in me…what about Joseph?
All the characters in the nativity story get a lot of press…Mary, Jesus, the wise guys, the shepherds, the angels…Joseph…not so much.
This, despite the fact that Joseph was the first person to suffer for the sake of Christ.
The English text does not do this passage justice…it does not capture either the pathos or the heart of a great man.
“Joseph, I’m pregnant”.
The words must have torn him inside out.
He knew it could not be his child.
In a few seconds with one sentence his pride, his manhood, and his dreams were shattered into the sand.
It was a risk he took waiting until later in life to get married…he was older and she was young and pretty.
Now he had been betrayed twice…once by the woman he loved and hoped to marry and once by someone he had to know who lived in the village.
His mind raced…was it one of the shopkeepers? One of his customers at the carpentry shop? His apprentice? Who would do this to him?
“The child is from Yawheh”.
Joseph had to believe at this point that not only had she betrayed him, she was crazy.
The Bible doesn’t tell us if he shouted at her or how long he cried.
It does say that in his pain and betrayal he chose to act in grace and love when he had the right to inflict some pain of his own.
He would divorce her quietly…and allow her to go on with the rest of her life and he picked up the pieces of his.
That is one of the greatest acts of sacrificial love recorded in Scripture.
We know the rest of the story…we know God came to Joseph in a dream and verified this crazy story…and Joseph believed God.
The child was not his, but he would raise it as if it were.
I wonder if he ever understood that God picked him to be the stepfather of Christ as surely as he had chosen Mary to be his mother.
I wonder if he ever pondered these things or if he simply did what good fathers do…worked hard at his trade, loved his family, and worshipped their God in front of them.
Joseph disappears from Scripture without a mention of his death or his funeral…he dies as quietly as he lived.
I’ll bet Jesus wept…
His legacy is the son that wasn’t his…and he did really well.
It started with choosing to love despite the pain and then believing God for the unbelievable..
Make your own application…