Matthew 1: 18-23 (the message)
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.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth and when she does you, Joseph, will name him Jesus–God Saves–because he will save his people from their sins.”
When I think about the birth of Jesus I always think of Mary; Joseph has always been a background person in my mind. This morning, however, as I read these verses I was somewhat struck by Joseph’s heart. He discovers his intended is pregnant and they are not married yet (extremely taboo). Obviously, he would know it wasn’t his baby since they had not been together! The verse says “chagrined but noble” he determined to handle the situation quietly so Mary would not be disgraced. I have read this before but today I saw something more: Joseph’s heart was full of mercy and compassion! I realized this morning that Joseph was not a “background” person in the story of God in the flesh. The choice of Joseph as Mary’s husband was equally important as Mary being chosen the mother of Jesus. Joseph would be Mary’s protector, Joseph would be the decision-maker, Joseph would be the head of the household in which Jesus grew and was raised. Joseph would be in earthly authority. What an amazing thought to ponder! And I believe the simple verse above speaks volumes about Joseph’s heart and character…the reasons God chose Him…the reason God entrusted this man with such a great role in history. Joseph’s heart was not to condemn Mary, was not to “Lord” over her. Joseph’s heart was to protect her even in what he thought was betrayal. And once Joseph realized the child she carried was Holy Spirit conceived, he completely yielded to the plans and purposes of God!
I believe God’s plans and purposes are unstoppable. If Joseph had not had a heart yielded to God, full of mercy and compassion, then I think we would just be talking about some other man. God’s plan for redemption through Jesus was going to come to pass, but what an incredible life Joseph lived on earth! Even now, as we peer down the corridors of history, Joseph gets a passing nod for obeying God’s directions. But what if we look a little more deeply? What if we imagine the role Joseph played in Jesus’ life after He was born? Joseph’s kind heart, his humble and yielded life, would have been a great vessel through which God worked in Jesus’ life, a safe place for our Savior to grow and mature…preparing to fulfill His destiny as Messiah.
After reading and thinking more about Joseph this morning, I pray my heart becomes the kind God is looking for. I pray He continues to change me and work in my life…that I would be used in His plans and purposes for the time and place in history in which I live. Over and over in scripture we find it’s never about stature or position in God’s economy…it’s never about how we “present” ourselves…it’s always the simple and believing heart, a life yielded to the Glorious One, that helps accomplish history.