“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.” - Matthew 1:19(KJV)
As we approach the Advent season I thought it would be appropriate to offer several blog entries that would turn our attitudes to the reason for the season. How about starting with a good cup of JOE! Not a cup of coffee but Joseph aka Joe the Hero!
When we read and think about the Nativity we are usually absorbed by the angelic announcement to an unassuming young woman who will give birth to a baby that has never previously been born or existed. Mary will give birth to a baby born helpless but blessed with the power of heaven. Embodied in humanity and yet absolutely encompasses eternity. Mary and the baby Jesus are indeed major characters in this story that continues to capture our hearts. However, I submit to you that both Mary and the baby Jesus had a hero in Joe.
Let’s behold his background. According to the scriptures:
- He was of Davidic descent (Matthew 1:20; Luke 2:4),
- He was the son of Heli (Luke 3:23) or Jacob (Matthew 1:16), and
- He was the husband of Mary (Matthew 1:16).
When we examine the four Gospel accounts only Matthew and Luke provide any reference to Joseph. While Luke recognizes his role as Mary’s husband but only Matthew calls our attention to his character indicating that he was a just man.
From the scriptures we see that Joseph was the kind of guy that parents pray that their daughter will bring over for dinner. He is identified as a just man. A just man is a man that is: righteous, observing divine laws. In a wide sense, he was upright, virtuous, and faithful in keeping the commands of God. The scriptures declare that those that are justified by God are those that place their faith in God. Joseph was this kind of man.
“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” - Habakkuk 2:4 (KJV)
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” - Romans 5:1 (KJV)
While we can conclude from scripture that Joseph was a God fearing man, he and Mary were about to be tested by a tremendous fire. Their trust is thrust into a trial. Joseph’s wife-to-be, Mary, went away for three months to spend some time with her cousin, Elizabeth, and came back pregnant! It is natural to project that Joseph had an incredible time trying to process Mary’s explanation as to why she was expecting a baby! It is possible that he thought that Mary was trying him with a tremendous tale. He must have asked himself how a woman could conceive outside conventional means. How could she ask him to not only believe an angel's announcement but also suppress the scandal? Joseph, the virtuous man, found himself in the vice of fear, shame, confusion and a sense of being dumped and dumbfounded. I can hear him calling into question Mary’s account of the events that contributed to her condition. He might have been thinking: Come on Mary! I may have been born at night but not last night! Rock city was a stone throw away! Meaning that his Mary’s actions had attached her to a stoning!
Imagine Joseph’s astonishment and apprehension when she began to share with him that the Father of the child was God. Process that one fellas! According to the scriptures, they had never had sexual intercourse and Mary herself had been faithful. Yet due to God’s intervention, they found themselves in a totally unique situation unknown in all of history before or since that time. Consider Joseph’s response to Mary’s revelation. How in the world did he manage to silence his broken and bleeding heart? How did he master the torrent of thoughts that terribly trounced his mind? His response as described in the Scripture demonstrates a spiritual strength that was birthed out of a sincere and supernatural love from heaven in his heart. That this love was from heaven is obvious from his actions because as the scriptures remind us, selfless love is not natural but supernatural.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (KJV)
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1John 3:18 (KJV)
By exercising a sensitivity to Mary and demonstrating a divine display of selflessness Joseph chose not to create a public scandal by exposing her condition to the judges at the city gate. Such a report would have certainly resulted in Mary’s death by stoning according to the law (Deut. 22:23–24). As a result, Joe our hero, decided to divorce her quietly.
God graciously gave Joseph some clarity about his wife's condition. In a dream, an angel told Joseph that Mary’s condition was not caused by a man, but through the Holy Spirit. The angel also told Joseph that this was consistent with God’s eternal plan, for the Prophet Isaiah had declared 700 years before that the virgin will be with Child (Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14). After this divine disclosure, Joe our hero, rose to the occasion and operated no longer in fear but faith and obedience!
When God calls you to rise to the occasion to obey what will you say? Let’s pray we will follow Joe the Hero’s example.
- Be sensitive to the Spirit.
- Be strong and sound in the Spirit.
- Be selfless and consistently surrendered to His will for our lives.
For the Glory of God,