Advent – Preparing for the Coming King (Day 14)

Day 14 –Joseph’s Story – Matthew 1:18-25

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, t because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” w (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus

The Christmas story that many of us know is not literally told in the Bible.  That is, there are two Christmas stories in the New Testament, one in the gospel of Matthew and one in Luke.  Matthew seems to focus on Joseph and the wisemen while Luke focuses on Mary and the shepherds.  There are other differences, I just highlight those two.

Some people see this as a contradiction, near proof that these stories did not happen.  Others see the two stories, put together, as the real story of what happened.  Are they two different stories told for two different purposes, or complementary stories that fill each other out?

I’ve written a little bit about Mary – the angel appearing to her, her song of praise – but today we swing to Joseph.  Joseph is truly a mystery figure.  While Mary appears throughout the stories of Jesus, up to the crucifixion (see John’s gospel), Joseph does not appear again after the birth stories.  What sort of man was Joseph?

He was clearly honorable.  When his fiance was discovered to be pregnant, Joseph had every right to divorce her.  He probably could have done far worse to her then divorce her, it is likely he could have had her killed.  It was a patriarchal culture and as a man, apparently wronged in a horrid way by a woman, he had the ability to seek revenge nearly however he wanted.

But being an honorable man, he goes above and beyond the requirements of the law and seeks to divorce her quietly.  Perhaps Joseph was thinking that though she had apparently ruined their relationship, he was not going to ruin her life.  Eventually he decided to stick by her, with a little revelation from a heavenly messenger.

I imagine that Joseph was the butt of many jokes.  His friends, and his enemies, would have known Jesus was not his true son.  They probably mocked him – “his wife cheated on him with another man and he let her get away with it and is raising the b****** baby.”  It may have been brutal for Joseph and Mary to face the dirty looks and violent words.

Yet Joseph, like Mary, knew there was more going on here.  They endured because of their faith.  They knew God was working great things through this child so they persevered.  I think that is quite encouraging.

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