Summary: God’s grace is evident in how Joseph trusted in God.
Adam and Eve. Romeo and Juliet. Archie and Edith Bunker. Those are just some of the famous couples throughout history. Some are more famous or infamous than others. What makes these people so memorable is that we can relate to them and the experiences in their lives. We understand the joy and sadness of each; we can laugh and cry with them.
There’s one couple that wasn’t added to the list, however. That’s Mary and Joseph. When you think about it, we have much in common with this couple. We relate to their lives every year. Each year we go to Bethlehem and celebrate Christmas with this humble family. Last evening, we looked at Christmas through Mary’s eyes. Today, we take a brief look at this miraculous event from Joseph’s perspective. So, this morning, I invite you to see CHRISTMAS: THROUGH JOSEPH’S EYES. We learn much about Joseph and about God’s grace and faithfulness. So, today we look at Joseph 1) As the Husband of Mary and 2) As a Child of God.
1) As the Husband of Mary
Matthew begins very simply. He states: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” The two were pledged to each other. Now, that was probably similar to what we would call an engagement. They had most likely spoken vows to get married in front of some witnesses, and so they were regarded as husband and wife. But they didn’t live together yet. This was a time for building a relationship, getting to know one another. This was a time to plan and dream. According to the custom of the day, the actual wedding celebration would take place several months later, then they would begin their lives together as one flesh.
Joseph planned to be a good husband. Most likely, he worked hard, saving what he could, preparing for his new life with Mary. All of a sudden, Mary drops a bomb on Joseph. Again, notice how matter-of-factly Matthew describes this uncomfortable situation: but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. The phrase “before they came together” is a reference to any sexual relationship. There wasn’t any at this time. Joseph didn’t take advantage of his fiancé, and, yet, Mary was pregnant. Talk about shock and disappointment! One could just imagine the conversation between Mary and Joseph. Maybe Mary said, “Joseph, dear, I have something I need to tell you. It’s really wonderful news … really. Uh, I’m, uh, going to have a baby. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but that’s not the case. This isn’t any ordinary baby. This is the Messiah whom we’ve been waiting for! Honest! An angel told me! Isn’t that wonderful? Aren’t you happy?”
But Joseph wasn’t happy. He must have felt betrayed. How could he believe such a bogus story! There could only be one conclusion: Mary must have been unfaithful. Joseph felt betrayed. He was a jilted lover. He felt that the love of his life had been completely unfaithful to him. When you think about it, this is nothing new. People are unfaithful to one another all of the time. In fact, that’s the very subject of a lot pop songs” You’ve done me wrong, and you’re no good.”
Joseph’s life-story wouldn’t make a very good “jilted lover” song, though. Yes, Joseph was hurt. Yes, he was confused. But he still loved Mary. He didn’t want to hurt her. He didn’t want to get even. In fact, we’re told that he was a “righteous man.” Joseph was righteous in God’s sight because he had humble faith in the Lord. He believed in God’s promise of a Savior to come, and so he was concerned about the kind of life he lived. He wanted his faith and actions to be in line with one another. As a believer in the Messiah, Joseph struggled. The ceremonial law said that Joseph could take Mary to the city gate and have her stoned to death. Then his reputation would be restored. But Joseph didn’t want to do that. He didn’t want to disgrace or hurt Mary any further. And so, he decided to quietly divorce her so that the two of them could start their lives over.
But the Lord intervened. Matthew tells us, “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. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” Now, this was most likely the angel Gabriel, the same one who appeared to Mary. Do you notice how gently God deals with Joseph’s weakness? He sends an angel with the very same message he gave to Mary. Mary was telling the truth! She didn’t cheat on Joseph. What happened to her was the fulfillment of God’s promise!