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Can anyone relate to that stage of life when you are watching your children step into the arena of dating and you begin to realize how close they are to the age you were when you got married? *gulp* :) Perhaps you are the one in that season of life, where finding your match is on your mind…


Last night I was reading in the beginning of Matthew when it struck me just how much that story reveals about the character of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. After contemplating the qualities I was seeing revealed, I could easily relate to Mary’s parents, as my eldest daughter is approaching this same stage in life.


First, allow me to briefly set the scene: In Jewish culture, the betrothing of a couple was a pretty serious commitment. It was our version of engagement but not as easily broken. If, it was found out that there had been fornication/cheating before the wedding, then the other person had the right to break the commitment, even if this was found out on their wedding night. This is why Jesus said what he did in Matthew 19:3-11. These words are often mistranslated by people who believe Jesus was suddenly saying that adultery is a reason for a couple to divorce and remarry. But, as I covered more thoroughly in my book, the Greek words here are actually a reference to fornication before marriage (not adultery), because of this well-known Jewish custom.


Joseph was put in a terrible position. The woman he trusted and loved just told him that she was pregnant with the Messiah. This news may have been tough to believe- to put it mildly. But Joseph was a man of exceptional character. Even when put in a position like that, he did not lose his temper or start accusing Mary. He could have dragged her to the town square and had her stoned to death. The people would have understood. They would have applauded his religious passion. I bet he even would have won their sympathy for getting “the raw end of the deal”. But, Joseph considered what she said before re-acting. Then, out of love for Mary, he chose a risky solution that covered her from public shame but still would have left his own heart raw with the sting of betrayal. He decided he would quietly set her aside/break the engagement.


Obviously, I do not expect one of my daughters to come home one day pregnant with the Messiah during their engagement. But think about this extreme situation that took place and think about the character that Joseph demonstrated.


He clearly did not believe it at first. He had no reason to. He had every right to explode and prove a point. He could have used it as an excuse to start again.


Obviously, he truly loved Mary, right?


So if he had no reason to believe her, and truly loved her- Why didn’t he just marry her quickly and cover it up? Why did he purpose in his mind to break up with her quietly? Because Joseph knew scripture. He had already become well acquainted with God’s written word. He knew how God had asked them to protect purity and he loved God. He loved and trusted God so much that he was willing to let God’s words trump his own decisions and passions. Wow. Now, THAT’s a man.


Next, an angel of the Lord showed up to let Joseph know that everything Mary told him was true. We do not know how much time had passed while Joseph was considering what to do with Mary. We do not know how far along she was at this point but now he was in the position of risking his own reputation by marrying her. Without having this situation supernaturally revealed to people by God, it is not going to be very believable. And the only other person we see God revealing this info to was Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Choosing to share in her public shame, Joseph still did what the angel instructed him to do.


I don’t know what is more impressive about this fiancé of hers- the fact that he knew scripture AND how to hear from God personally, or the fact that he was willing to act on it, even if it put him at risk.


Now, here comes the part that blows my mind. We read in Matthew 1:25 that Joseph did not “know” his wife until after Jesus was born. –As in… no “nooky nooky” for the first several months of marriage. This guy not only was willing to protect her from public shame, obey God at risk to himself by marrying her, and agree to love this woman/child as his own, but out of reverence to God he also chose to not know his wife intimately until after the birth of Jesus. Was that out of honor to God or honour to Mary in her unusual situation? We don’t know. But think about that. They would have been a sharing a bed for many months and already married. What man can do that?!


We all know how the end of the pregnancy played out. When Mary was close to her due date, they were suddenly forced to travel all the way to Bethlehem for a census. While there, Mary went into labour and because of the census crowds they ended up giving birth in a stable. In this strange twist of events, God not only fulfilled ancient prophecy about where the Messiah would be born, but he also removed them from the home town crowds during the birth of their baby. I have wondered if that was part of their protection.  


Once they traveled to Bethlehem they needed to stay there long enough to stabilize the baby. (This is why Herod had all the males aged 2 and younger slaughtered when he learned of another “king” being born in his area.) After the visit from the magi, where Joseph and Mary received so many provisions (gold, frankincense, myrrh- think $valuable$ stuff here). Joseph was warned in a dream to take the toddler and his mother and flee in the middle of the night to Egypt. (Now they had the provisions to do so.) It was not until after the death of Herod that God told him it was safe to travel back to his home land again. Joseph could not have known God was going to arrange for all this.  


God super naturally led them, protected them and provided for this young family through the prayer life and servant heart of one selfless man.


Eventually, life became more predictable for a while as they raised at least six more children together (Matthew 13:55-56) as he continued his trade of carpentry in Nazareth. But I shudder to imagine the odds of that family making it through such a season if Mary chose to marry an average guy.


This earthly father and husband proved time and again what character traits he was made up of. It is no wonder why God trusted that man to raise his son.


And as I lay in bed I hear my heart cry out, “Lord, direct my daughters to men like that. And Lord, help us raise our boys to be that kind of man.”


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Posted by: Anna Wozniak
Posted on: 3/23/2016 at 11:05 AM
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Categories: Engagement | Love | Marriage | Raising Children | Relationships
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