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We are introduced to Joseph in the middle of a personal crisis. Having become engaged to a beautiful young girl, he has worked hard to establish an income to support his new bride and begin a family. He’s in love. He’s committed to Mary. He believed she loved him—that is, until he hears the news that his precious bride is pregnant.
Heart-broken and betrayed, how should he respond? Should he publicly shame her? Should he turn her over to the authorities to be stoned to death? Her explanation of the pregnancy was unbelievable, even blasphemous. If Mary hadn’t been stoned on the charge of adultery, she could have been stoned on the charge of serious blasphemy. However, Joseph chooses the path of mercy. The Bible says, “And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly” (Matthew 1:19 NASB).
Before any divine explanation, Joseph chooses kindness and discretion. No malice. No explosion. Certainly he could have asked a lot of questions here: “How could you do this to me? Who’s the father?” But, no words are recorded, only tenderness. He might be the talk of Nazareth. Friends might make snide comments. But he would not hurt Mary, no matter what he thought she had done to him. When he could have demanded a bitter sentence, he chose grace and mercy. Another translation says, “Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly” (NLT). The key to being a good father is first being a good man!
James Dobson has often said, “One of the best things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” That’s what Joseph did. He loved Mary, even when he thought she didn’t love him.
Steve Shepherd, who is a spiritual mentor of mine even though we’ve never met, tells the story of a father and son who went to the circus one day. Recalling his childhood with a bit of nostalgia, a man said, “Once when I was a teenager, my father and I were standing in line to buy tickets for the circus. Finally, there was only one family between us and the ticket counter. This family made a big impression on me. There were eight children, all probably under the age of twelve. You could tell they didn’t have a lot of money. Their clothes were not expensive, but they were clean.
“The children were well-behaved, all of them standing in line, two-by-two behind their parents, holding hands. They were excitedly jabbering about the clowns, elephants, and other acts they would see that night. One could sense they had never been to a circus before. It promised to be a highlight of their young lives. The father and mother were at the head of the pack standing proud as could be. The mother was holding her husband’s hand, looking up at him as if to say—you’re my knight in shining armor. He was smiling and basking in pride, looking at her.
“The ticket lady asked the father how many tickets he wanted. He proudly said, ‘Please, let me buy eight children’s tickets and two adult tickets so I can take my family to the circus.’ Then the ticket lady quoted the price. The man’s wife let go
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