As mentioned in the message.
Talk about a real challenge. You're engaged,
your fiancee is pregnant and you're not the father. What would you do?
Joseph had just that problem. He was lined up to be properly married
to Mary when out of the blue he is told by her that she is pregnant
and that it was the Holy Spirit that did the job on behalf of God. That
would be one huge blindside.
So what could he do? Joseph was a respected carpenter. He also knew
that Mary had a good reputation and was well respected. What we can
learn from the Gospel message about the man who would help raise the
Messiah can be found amongst these verses.
- Joseph: An upright man (Matthew 1:18-19)
We are told that Joseph was an upright man and mindful of the law. Someone
people looked up to and recognised as being honest and having integrity.
The law would have stipulated that a woman who is found to be pregnant
with an illegitimate child could be scorned, ridiculed and perhaps even
stoned under certain circumstances. Yet in the story of the revelation
that Mary being found to be pregnant; it shows the sort of character
Joseph had. Unlike many men who may openly shame their fiancé
publicly, Joseph was mindful of the respect Mary held in the community.
He shows sensitive enough to plan to quietly help Mary go somewhere
private to have the child. Away from scorn and judgement of those who
didn't know her.
- Joseph: A considerate husband (Matthew 1:20-23)
Having been informed of the significance of the child Joseph doesn't
falter. He quickly comes to terms with the responsibility of parenting
such an important person. Instead of taking the easy way out, Joseph
did what we might say in our Post Modern jargon. He manned up and accepted
the challenge without any more argument or debate.
- Joseph: An obedient servant of God (Matthew 1:24-25)
Continuing the somewhat daunting and amazing story of the patience and
understanding of Joseph; we now read that after He was told of the importance
of the child He accepted Mary as his wife. Without any more questions
or debate. She would have moved in with him as his wife. Though He showed
great compassion and self control as He did not consummate the marriage
until after the child was born. By doing this He made certain not to
spoil the child in any way. He allowed the natural course of the divine
pregnancy to take its' course.
- Joseph: A good citizen of his country (Luke 2:1-5)
Okay, so the story continues for Joseph. Keep in mind that at this point
He really is only pledged to Mary. So essentially He could have easily
left her behind while He went and registered. But instead He took her
on a very long and difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Which
respectfully was the town of David. Taking Mary on a 111 km trek. In
doing so He not only showed his willingness to follow the requirements
of his people. But also to keep close to Mary.
- Joseph: A protector of his family (Matthew 2:13-23)
The intrigue for Joseph doesn't end with the birth of Jesus. Sure there
were the Shepherds who showed up unannounced in the middle of the night.
And as Eastern custom would have it, visitors are to be shown hospitality.
Followed several years by the arrival of some really rich and learned
looking Magi (In some translations they are described as Wise Men).
But than comes another surprise. Joseph is told to drop everything and
run away to Egypt. Keep in mind Jesus would be roughly three years old.
Joseph may well have started a business in town as a carpenter (not
to be confused with singer Carpenters). So to just suddenly run away
would have taken another jump of faith on his part. Which He did for
the safety of his family.
- Joseph: A concerned father (Luke 2:41-50)
Many may either read these verses quickly. While others may become sceptical
of Mary and Joseph actually losing Jesus after they had been told so
many amazing things about him. To understand what is going on here is
to take a look at the ritual of the Passover. This was one of the most
important events in the Jewish calendar. Each year the Jewish people
would make a pilgrimage to the Holy Temple. Another trek. That could
easily be full of drama. As anyone who travelled alone or in small groups
would be easy targets for attack by thieves or rogue Roman Soldiers
looking to demand to be paid. So to make the journey many families and
friends would journey together. I such an extended family it was normal
for children to move from one family group to the next. When Joseph
and Mary left for the journey home they would have felt secure That
Jesus was somewhere amongst the throng That they travelled with. When
after a day they realised the error they didn't continue. But took the
less safe recourse and ran back to find Jesus Joseph was not the physical
Father of Jesus but He held up the responsibility to ensure He was safe.
So how does That compare to our tragically Post Modern and Post Christian
world? Sadly as soon as men find out That their fiancé has been
in anyway or appearance unfaithful, they bolt. Human nature is completely
and totally egocentric. With a myopic view That if it isn't something
they have created than it's not going to happen. I know of the tragic
case of several young women who thought That just becoming pregnant
to a man would make them settle down. Only to watch run away. Followed
by the difficult task of raising a child by themselves. They have trouble
finding a new partner. In some cases the young woman I mentioned would
become pregnant to the new partner. Only to watch them run away. Commitment
and relationships are two words many men have the most trouble with.
So back to the story of Joseph. In this we find the role model of how
a man should behave. A description of one mans character in the face
of amazingly range of difficult challenges. All be it Joseph was dealing
with the Saviour of the World. I wouldn't imagine a man today would
expect their Wife to be pregnant with a Messiah One is all the world
really needs. But the reaction should be tempered with compassion and
understanding. What other comparisons could we make of this level of
accepted responsibility shown by Joseph? This is one of perceived infidelity.
But what about challenged by a fiancé who tends to lie or exaggerate?
perhaps someone who has a hidden mental problem? Or a gambling problem?
How might a man react to each?
It would be hope as it has been stated. If there is love between the
Man and the Woman (enough with the same sex sin) than there should also
be room for compassion and understanding.
I pray That we may acknowledge,
The love of Joseph for Mary,
The respect He showed her,
The way in which He acted,
With dignity and understanding.
May we too find ways to,
Respect others for their needs,
Judge less their shortcomings,
Show compassion as a gift,
As we seek to do your will.
In all things we pray,
In you loving name.
Jesus the Christ.
Our Lord and our Saviour.