Part One: “Minded to Put Her Away Privily”
Part Two: Another Quick Thought on Joseph
- After Joseph decided to go ahead and take Mary as his wife, his reputation was in the dirt. Most people would assume that either he was the father and had been immoral, or that he wasn’t the father and Mary had played him for a fool. Since we know Joseph was a person who thought about things, he would have known this, but he took Mary as his wife anyway.
- When Joseph had dreams from God, he obeyed immediately when he woke up, at least once in the middle of the night (Matthew 2:13-14). Joseph wasn’t one to wait until it was convenient or easy to obey. (He probably also acted in the night in Matthew 1:24 — Mary, like Joseph, would have been in some turmoil over their relationship, and he doesn’t seem the kind of man who would keep her waiting to let her know about the angel’s message to him. He probably was over there telling her father, “Sir, tell Mary an angel appeared to me, too, and we’re completing this marriage as soon as we can!” “Go away, son, and come back tomorrow morning. It’s the middle of the night! Crazy kids!” 🙂 I know, I know, the Bible doesn’t say this, but we should see Joseph and Mary as real people with real thoughts, emotions, and reactions, and not cardboard figures in a nativity scene.)
- Joseph was a man of great self-control. We can see by all his actions how much he loved Mary, and so his normal desire for physical intimacy must have been strong. He took Mary as his wife, and by normal standards need not have waited until after the Child was born, but the Bible tells us clearly that he did wait.
- It was dangerous to be Joseph. Everyone knew that Herod the Great was a paranoid killer who murdered his own sons when he thought they were a threat — and Joseph was the heir to the throne of David. Yet, Joseph still took Mary and Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:21 & following), in keeping with the Old Testament Law, even after “loud-mouthed shepherds” (my term) had “made known abroad” (Luke 2:17-18) about the Child they had seen. Obedience wasn’t optional for Joseph even if it seemed dangerous.
- Joseph must have been a little fearful of staying in Bethlehem, so close to Jerusalem, but God had arranged (by the decree of Augustus) for him to be there when Christ was born, so he stayed until God moved him.
- Joseph must have wondered just how many “loud-mouths” there were going to be when the wise men started talk all over Jerusalem about his family (Matthew 2:1-3). Yet, these “loud-mouths” served at least three purposes. First, they were a witness against those who would later reject their Messiah, both as to His birth and its location. Later, the religious leaders might scorn Him as a Nazarene, but the true place of His birth was no secret. Second, the wise men were an additional confirmation for those who believed. Third, they brought provision for Joseph’s need (see my next point). Sometimes the very thing which seems bad to us may be the very thing we needed.
- Joseph was poor (the offering mentioned in Luke 2:24 is the poor man’s alternative), and he wasn’t “white van man” with a convenient vehicle to transport his carpentry tools to Bethlehem, and then on to Egypt. How was he going to provide for his family? He acted in faith, no doubt trusting God to enable him to work somehow, and God sent wise men with expensive gifts which would have greatly helped with the financial needs of the journey.
- Joseph was the father of “James the Just”, the author of the Biblical book of James. According to Josephus, this man was so godly that many Jews believed the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. came as a punishment for the murder of James. Another brother was Jude, so Joseph’s natural sons provided two of the books of the Bible. Although the Bible tells us Jesus’ brothers did not at first believe in Him, perhaps we can see the godly influence of Joseph in what his sons eventually became.
Update: Russell Moore has some of the same thoughts on Joseph, and some others as well. (HT: News for Christians)