The Christmas Story: Joseph (Take 1)

We’ve taken two days to look at Mary. In my mind, she is quite possibly one of the most interesting women to study in the Bible. Every time I am confronted with the Christmas Story, Mary seems to make it to the forefront of my mind.

Not far behind though is Joseph. Joseph falls in line within the linage of David. In some respects, Joseph is a man with royal blood running through his body. Unlike David though, Joseph is not a king. He is a simple stone worker. His main responsibilities were probably to build houses out of stone and maintain the city wall as needed. Since he was a craftsman of sorts, Joseph and most likely his father were an important part of community life. He probably always had work to do. He could be called upon to help a friend or neighbor build a solid house. Needless to say, the community needed the skills Joseph had. He was, for that reason, probably taken care of by his community.

He wasn’t just a hard worker. He was also a devout Jew who kept the Law of Moses to the best of his ability. He feared God and strived to live a life that was worthy of God’s return. This would be reflected in how Joseph did his business, maintained relationships within the community, and the type of wife Joseph would receive. Of all the women Joseph could have been betrothed to, there be no doubt that Mary was a lucky women – even if she didn’t love him as we would traditionally love a future spouse. She realized that above love, she would be taken care of by Joseph. He would never be without work and he could eventually train his children and others to do what he does. He would be desirable to anyone who was looking for a skill to learn.

Joseph prepares to marry his young virgin spouse by building his own home. For Joseph, it wouldn’t take as long as some. He had built so many homes before. The year would go by quickly and he would take Mary to be his wife. All of his friends would be there to drink wine and dance. There would also be gifts and God would look down on them and bless them. In Joseph’s mind, the future looked promising.

That was until Mary came home one day and dropped a bomb on Joseph. “I’m pregnant, Joseph. I am with a child but I am still a virgin. An angel told me God is within me and He is growing. He will save us from our sins. The long-awaited Messiah is in me and yet we have not had sex.” I don’t know how the conversation went. I don’t really know how Mary put the words together. We can only guess at how it must have seemed to her as each word rolled off her tongue. Not only that – Joseph’s response must have been picture priceless.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I believe Mary shared with Joseph what she had learned before she left to visit Elizabeth for three months. Being a woman of character and boldness, I cannot conceive her to keep that a secret from Joseph. As she leaves, I can only imagine Joseph’s mind running as he tries to understand what his wife-to-be had just told him.

For three months – could you imagine – Joseph debates what he is going to do. Having her around would only make things more difficult. Perhaps it was good that she left. If word were to ever get out about this, the crowd would look for him to have her stoned.

You can only imagine his line of thinking: “She is pregnant with God? What really happened? Was she raped? Maybe she was raped and doesn’t want to say because she is ashamed. What if she wasn’t though? She can’t be pregnant and remain a virgin. How on earth is that possible? Mary has never lied to me before. She seems to maintain her modesty around the other men in the community. This is just crazy.” Once again, I can only suggest my thoughts. Have you thought about that at all? Every year, I think about how I would respond. I am afraid I can’t write them in this post because I would probably have to repent for the majority of my thoughts. Needless to say, I would want to believe her but would struggle to do so. He wanted to dismiss the wedding quietly. Even though out the pain he felt, Joseph looked after Mary. Today, that would be unheard of in our culture, which is probably why Jesus was born then and not now.

Thank goodness for Joseph’s dream. I wonder how many days he remained at home – not going out to be with the guys. I wonder how often he just lay in bed and cried; how often he prayed to God for answers; how little sleep he got; how little food he ate. Joseph, like many of us would be in that position, must have struggle beyond belief before that dream. And, with that dream, Joseph’s fear and complexity was all together removed.

The angel explained everything to Joseph in this dream. We are told when Joseph awakes from this dream; he knows what he must do. He takes Mary as his wife. Later on, Mary and Joseph present Jesus to the Temple and offer a sacrifice on His behalf. Two turtledoves are given – a sign of being poor. All Joseph had worked for – a great business, respect, and a great life for he and his future wife were gone. They had to start all over again. With no place to go and uncertainty in their mists, Joseph and Mary remained married and had other children. We do not know the time of Joseph’s death. Maybe that isn’t important to the story. What we do know is Joseph made a choice that many of us would not have made. He took a virgin – pregnant woman – to be his wife.

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