The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn't know that.) Matthew 1:18The virgin birth has been questioned in recent times, but Matthew makes a big deal about it. He was careful to explain that all the names in Jesus' genealogy were fathered by the name before it: "Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob" and so on -- until verse 16 of Jesus' geneology,
Jacob had Joseph, Mary's husband,Because Mary and Joseph were married before Jesus was born, He inherited Joseph's lineage. But Joseph did not father Jesus. Instead, Matthew said Jesus was conceived in Mary through the Holy Spirit. God fathered Jesus Christ.
the Mary who gave birth to Jesus,
the Jesus who was called Christ.
The ancient Jewish wedding customs were a little different than the way we do things now. Typically the marriage was arranged between the parents when the future bride and groom were children -- I sort of wish that’s how we did things now, since I have three young daughters!
But my husband and I do pray for the people our daughters will one day marry, that God would make our daughters wise and discerning in their choices, and we are teaching them about what to look for in a husband, that he should be godly, righteous, a man of good character, and from a loving family. And we are teaching them about God’s words concerning marriage, and how He has structured this important and holy relationship. I hope you are praying about your child’s future spouse too, and teaching them scripture’s truths about marriage.
Everyone in the community would know that these two were promised to each other, to be married when they grew up. Up until the betrothal, if the girl became unwilling to go through with the arrangement, she had the option of backing out, and her family could then make a new arrangement with a different family. But once the girl and the boy both came of age, a legal ceremony called “betrothal” would be performed which would have the couple exchange absolutely binding vows, tantamount to a marriage.
During the betrothal time there would not be much contact between the bride and groom, each would live with their parents, and not enter into any of the privileges of marriage. The betrothal period lasted about a year to prove the bride’s virginity and to give the groom time to prepare their new home. When the time was right, something only the father of the groom would determine, the formal wedding would take place, the groom would take the bride to his family home to begin their married life together.
It was during this betrothal time that Mary was visited by the angel and Joseph found himself in the dilemma of the next verse,
Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced. Matthew 1:19If the baby had been his, he would not have hesitated to take Mary as his wife. Instead he was troubled. The only way out of a betrothal was for it to be broken by another legal contract, called a divorce, which is what Joseph determined to do.
[Tomorrow: Joseph's decision to marry]
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