Monday, December 20, 2010

Matthew 1:18-20, Joseph's Decision

We’re not sure when Joseph found out Mary was pregnant. In the gospel of Luke, chapter 1, it says an angel came to tell Mary what was about to happen. Mary was perplexed since she was not married, and she was a virgin. But the angel explained that the child would be fathered by the Holy Spirit, something unique would take place inside of her that would allow the Son of God to be born from her body.

Amazingly Mary said yes. Every woman since Eve had been hoping and praying for this honor. But Mary must have also known that, given the circumstances, this was not going to be easy.

Right after her encounter with the angel, Mary left to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was experiencing her own miraculous pregnancy, carrying John the Baptist. In Elizabeth Mary found someone who understood completely what was happening to her. Mary must have used those three months to think and pray through her feelings about her own circumstances as she helped Elizabeth, and stayed for the birth of her son John.

Unlike Elizabeth, Mary was just a girl, unmarried and pregnant in a time when that was considered a crime punishable by death. She was willing to obey God, but she didn’t know how God was going to work it out to protect her.

But God had chosen the right man to be the earthly father of His Son. The ancient Jew would have been horrified and repulsed to find out that his betrothed was pregnant. But Joseph was a righteous man, he didn’t want to expose Mary to public disgrace, which would have resulted in her execution by stoning. Joseph was able to handle it because of his compassion, a part of his righteousness.

This is how righteousness is displayed, in the fruit of the Spirit, where you reach out in love and mercy, instead of having the knee jerk reaction of saying “I can’t handle this, you’re going down.” He opted for quiet legal action, he would be free to marry someone else, a virgin, and she would be free to raise her child, and possibly even marry the man who had fathered it.

While Joseph was considering a quiet divorce as the most merciful thing to do in the situation, God took the initiative in protecting both Mary and Jesus by sending an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream, saying,
"Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant." Matthew 1:20

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