Joseph's Love And Compassion For Mary

18 December - Advent

Jer. 23:5-8 & Mt. 1:18-25

Jeremiah is prophesying that we will have a king, a righteous shoot of David, who will reign and govern us wisely. Jesus Christ is the Messiah-King who not only guides us in our lives, but also gives us the means of achieving real unity.

Joseph was facing a personal crisis. He began to notice that his bride-to-be was carrying a child which he knew was not his own. He knew that his Mary had not been unfaithful to him. Can you imagine how perplexed and confused he was? Yet all his concern was for Mary. He loved her deeply and he didn't want her to be hurt.

Being a just and upright man it wouldn't have been honest for him to claim the child as his own. So he planned to divorce her quietly. He was betrothed to Mary. This was a serious commitment which could only be broken off by divorce. Joseph realised he had the best reason for a divorce namely, adultery. The engagement would be officially broken. No-one would have blamed him for his action. In fact everyone would sympathise with him. People would applaud him for upholding the law. Joseph knew all that. He also knew what would happen to Mary. She would have been shamed and humiliated.

To spare her that suffering, Joseph intended to break off the relationship quietly and discreetly. This was more than an act of kindness. It would involve personal sacrifice. Rumours were sure to arise about Joseph's own responsibility for the baby. His reputation would suffer, and probably his livelihood as well. This course of action would most likely damage his future chances of marriage and a family. He was prepared to do all this because of the deep love and concern he had for Mary. Is it any wonder that God entrusted the rearing of His Son to Joseph?

Now we shall see the tremendous faith that Joseph was to demonstrate. In a dream he was told by an angel, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.' He could have very reasonably reacted with the words, 'I just don't believe it.' Only a person with a great faith could have believed this. He was willing to let God be God and he knew that nothing is impossible to God.

Once he had been told what he had to do, Joseph demonstrated a real and personal commitment. 'He received Mary into his home as his wife.' His story did not end with simply believing. He committed himself to be a father to the child in every way he could. He took the risks and joys of rearing a child that was not his own. It was not an easy assignment, but I am sure Joseph would tell us that the rewards far outweighed the demands.

Lord Jesus, may Joseph inspire and help us to trust in You and behave as You would wish when faced with major challenges in our loves.