When reading over the book of Matthew and researching how the Jewish community held the process of marriage, it took a lot of courage from Joseph to stay with Mary. At first when Joseph heard the news of Mary being pregnant he wanted to break the engagement in private to protect Mary even though the child was not his own. This is important to understand because the process of marriage was very important to the Hebrew community and it was conducted in three phases. First the two families would come together and agree on the union. Secondly there would be a public announcement of the engagement and at this phase only death or divorce could break the engagement. Another important note to know is at this time no sexual relations were permitted. The last step of the process was the actual marriage where they could start living together as man and wife.
According to Jewish law, by Mary getting pregnant during their “engagement” allowed Joseph to request a divorce and the Jewish authorities would have stoned her to death. By understanding this, one can fully understand how good Joseph’s heart was when originally wanting to divorce in private. Knowing this, Joseph had two choices. One choice was to divorce her in private or publically where she would be stoned to death. However, the Lord gave Joseph a third option and that was to marry Mary and love her and the child.
God always gives us other options for situations if we allow Him to do it. Although Joseph was not doing anything wrong legally in the eyes of the Jewish culture, God’s guidance helped him make a better choice. This choice was not an easy one, but Joseph did it anyways. By marrying Mary and her being pregnant before marriage would leave them both under a social stigma. Even though Joseph was innocent the people would always look at him with shame. So the Lord sent Joseph an angel to give him guidance.
Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to disgrace her, decided to divorce her secretly. 20 After he had thought about it, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” he said, “don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he is the one who will save his people from their sins.” 22 Now all this happened to fulfill what was declared by the Lord through the prophet when he said, 23 “See, a virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,” which means, “God with us.” 24 When Joseph got up from his sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary as his wife. 25 He did not have marital relations with her until she had given birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.
When the angel declared to Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and the child was to be a son made Jesus both human and divine. Our perfect and powerful God was taking on the limitations of a human body. Joseph realized this and quickly changed his mind on the private divorce and continued with the marriage.
Sometimes we don’t do what is right because of what others may think of us. From Joseph we can learn to chose to obey God and do what is right instead of seeking approval from others. This scripture touches home for me because I am also a step-parent. When I married my wife she had two children from her broken marriage. I could have turned and ran the other way away from her, however, I knew that God wanted me to be a loving father to those children and a loving husband to my future wife. My family told me I was crazy for marrying a woman with children from a prior marriage, but in my eyes they were mine and God blessed me with them. Joseph did the same thing, even though Jesus was not his biological son, he did not stop loving and nurturing him like his own flesh and blood. This is an important lesson that this scripture sends out to all step-parents out there. This is why I believe Joseph is the ultimate step-parent.
Joseph had the honor to raise the Messiah, but you have the honor of raising God’s child. That child God is blessing you with could be the next president, a doctor that saves many lives or even a preacher that saves someone’s soul or so many other possibilities. God bless you all and I will leave you with one last piece of scripture today.
Behold, children are a heritage of the LORD. The fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of youth. 5 Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them. They won’t be disappointed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.