Advent Devotional – Wednesday, December 21, 2016 – Joseph, “A Righteous Man of God”
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. – Matthew 1:18-25
Can you imagine the initial shock on Joseph‘s face when Mary first told him that she was pregnant? He knew that he had been faithful to their vows, so had Mary been unfaithful? What would his family and friends say when they heard the news? I‘m sure his parents were disappointed in the couple and yet mortified at the same time. What would their family, friends, and the townsfolk say when they heard? And when Joseph told his friends about the pregnancy, what would be their reaction? I‘m sure comments were loud and clear-―You‘ve been messing around and now you‘ve gotten her pregnant. Joseph and Mary would be taunted by everyone.
Go back to verse 19 of this chapter. Before the age of surnames, people were often identified by their occupation. Due to this, we would expect Joseph to be introduced as ―Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, yet Matthew introduces Joseph as ―a righteous man‖. This speaks volumes about Joseph‘s character. Would Joseph‘s response to the situation be different than other men? This might be why we aren‘t surprised when later we learn that Joseph received divine instruction by an angelic messenger in a dream. He woke up from his informative sleep and ―did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him.
Joseph reacted compassionately. Verse 19 states that he was going to ―divorce Mary ―quietly. During this period of time, divorce was required because in his day, engagement was as binding as the marriage vow. But a quiet divorce was not the common practice. It was quite the reverse, especially when someone became pregnant through what appeared to be adultery. Joseph had every right to publicly denounce Mary and possibly have her stoned. But, ―Joseph was a righteous man‖ and he responded compassionately. Such a spirit of love must have been one reason why he was so open to the angelic message. His heart was righteous and therefore filled with compassion and caring. Such a heart was ready to hear from God and obey the instruction regardless of the consequences.
Jesus was omniscient; but as a man, he had to grow up and figure things out. His wisdom had to develop in response to many different experiences of life, just like we do today. In order to insure that His Son would develop into the man he was meant to be, God‘s plan included providing just the right influences during his childhood years. I think part of that plan was in the selection of the perfect earthly father to raise the Son of Man, and God chose Joseph.