Since we are coming close to Christmas, I thought I would share some thoughts on what I have been learning through the event of His birth, told to us in Scripture. I began to read the first few verses of Matthew’s account tonight and stopped when I reached the words, “Joseph, do not fear to take Mary as your wife.” I believe we do not give Joseph the credit he is due in this situation. At lest I haven’t. It says Joseph was a just man. He was looked at in his community as someone to be looked up to. He followed the Torah and did what the Jewish men of that time did.
I am convinced that Joseph really loved Mary. Though it is not spoken of, I am not sure Mary was too excited to be with Joseph. He was a carpenter (most likely someone who worked to build houses with stone). Joseph followed the routine for asking Mary to be his wife. He began working on a house and preparing himself to be married to a woman perhaps he had known most of his life. I am sure she was very pretty as well (in the Jewish standards of the day) and was most likely sought after by many different men. She was however, betrothed to Joseph (a ritual that basically announced that they would be married as soon as Joseph finished building his house and received his father’s permission to marry her). In all respects though (except sex), Joseph and Mary were “married.”
The Scriptures say, “Marry was “found” to be with child” (Parenthesis mine). I wonder what it must have been like to see Mary’s stomach growing and a baby taking form within her womb. Joseph must have looked at her in disbelief. How could he marry a whore? Perhaps a Roman guard raped her. Maybe they could pass it off as an unwanted child. How could a man like Joseph ever marry a woman like Mary now? She would have to be stoned for her actions.
I am convinced that Joseph really loved Mary. He could have passed her off to the town people and killed. They would have dragged her outside of the town, dug a pit, filled it with mud, stuck her in it, tied her feet and hands together, and hurled large rocks at her until she was dead. The law said that this is how a woman like Mary should be treated. There must be no sin among the people.
I am convinced that Joseph really loved Mary. He decided that he would attempt to privately divorce her. The annulment would take place behind closed doors and no one would know except for Joseph’s family and Mary’s. That really is love. It is a love that goes beyond what would naturally follow. As Joseph was considering all he options (and there were many options), he fell asleep. I wonder if he prayed continuously about it. It does not say Joseph prayed about how to handle this situation but I have to believe he did. I have to believe Joseph came to God broken and confused about all that had transpired. When Joseph was asleep, the angle of the Lord appeared to him. I have never seen an angel nor am I ever expecting to meet one before I leave earth. I am almost sure that the awesome sight of what he was seeing frightened Joseph. “Do not fear, for what has been conceived is by the Holy Spirit.” If that dream had happened to me, I would have began to ask a lot of questions. “Why me?”
I am convinced that Joseph really loved Mary. Joseph woke from his dream and realized what had just taken place. He took Mary as his wife. He maintained a sex-free relationship with her until after Jesus was born. Even though Joseph was seen in a different light now that he had married Mary, Joseph took the angel’s words to heart. “Do not fear.”
I am convinced that Joseph really loved Mary. Without him, Mary would have been killed. Jesus would have had to be born another way, through another person. I love the fact that God takes note of Joseph’s love for Mary. And, for me, it is worth writing about and sharing with others this holiday season. God bless