Summary: Joseph's story is one of courageous obedience to God.
December 4, 2016
Show video of new I-Phone diver commercial. Link is "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La4HRfL5tV4"
WOW! I love this commercial. I think it’s cool! It’s all about the new I-phone speakers, just out for your Christmas purchasing pleasure. When I think about this commercial, I’m not sure if that is courage or stupidity! Personally, I don’t like heights, so that definitely would be a no go for me. I’ll dive in off the low diving board. But I’m sure many of you would embrace that challenge and your family would call you . . .
I wonder if that’s how some people felt about a guy named Joseph. We really don’t know much about him. We know he’s the soon to be husband of Mary, the non-biological father of the Messiah, Jesus. He was a carpenter, but we don’t know much else about him.
Last week, we took a look at the some of the family tree of Jesus. And the second half of the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel is the story of Mary and Joseph. This is an important story in the life of Jesus, even though He hasn't yet been born. This story gives us a glimpse of the great love Joseph had for Mary, and it helps us put the life of Jesus in its proper context.
It also teaches us some lessons about what I’m going to call COURAGEOUS OBEDIENCE!
While we don’t know all of the details we wish we did about Mary and Joseph, scholars have tried to piece together some of the details — but at best we can only speculate.
When this story begins, Joseph and Mary are about to be married. Matthew writes...
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
At first, some parts of this story may seem confusing. Matthew says they were pledged to be married, in other words, engaged, and then he refers to Joseph as her husband, and speaks of divorce. Here's what it means.
The custom of the day was that getting married was a three step process.
The first step was engagement, which usually was a contract arranged by the family. The parents made the determination whether the couple would be good for one another. Imagine us doing that today? How would you like mom and dad to pick your mate. Understand this arrangement was often made when they were children, and was often set up through a matchmaker. It was usually arranged without the couple ever knowing each other.
This might have been the case with Mary and Joseph, since he was from Bethlehem and she was from Nazareth. This arrangement wasn't binding; the man or woman could back out of it without consequence if either one decided they couldn't go through with the marriage.
The second step of the process was called betrothal. It was similar to engagement, but much stricter in its understanding. The only way a betrothal could be terminated was by divorce. For all practical purposes, the couple was considered husband and wife, even though they did not live together as a married couple. The betrothal period lasted about a year. During this period of time, the couple started to spend more time together, getting to know one another.
The third step was when the couple came together officially as husband and wife and began their life as a married couple.
It was during the second stage of the process, during the time of betrothal, that Mary was discovered to be pregnant. They weren't living together — they probably weren't even living in the same village — and yet Mary was expecting a child.
I'm sure Joseph thought he was betrayed. Mary was unfaithful. He would have been angry and heartbroken. He could have subjected her to public humiliation, but instead, because he was a righteous man, he decided, most likely with counsel, to quietly divorce Mary.
Divorce was not unheard of in those days — in fact, it was not all that uncommon — and if done quietly and properly, maybe Mary would be able to move on and lead a good life and eventually marry again.
One of the consequences of divorcing Mary quietly was this - - - Most people would assume Joseph was the father of Mary’s child, and the divorce was caused by a reason other than adultery. By divorcing her quietly, rather than publicly, Joseph put his reputation at risk instead of Mary's. This says something about Joseph’s integrity and even love he had for Mary.