BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” Matthew 1:18,19
I recall my pastor making the comment a couple of years ago, that considering the character of Joseph, that he was surprised that he was not more revered at as part of the early life of Jesus. Joseph is more than incidental to the narrative of Jesus birth.
The simple description of Joseph’s character is that of being “just” or righteous. As a just man, Joseph was committed to doing the right thing. How important is that trait for men and women today. The Bible says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17 NIV) Joseph knew the law and what the consequences of the law were and was willing to follow through, even in the midst of the confusion and conflict that might be raging in his heart and mind.
Being a just person is doing the right thing in the right way. Joseph could have made Mary a public spectacle. The result would have been shame for Mary and dignity or “saving face” for Joseph. But instead he considered what he needed to do, but was willing to do it in a way that spared Mary’s dignity.
Then, I believe we can observed that a just man is open to “the facts” before rushing to judgment. Jesus’ words to those who were ardent follower of the law were, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” (John 7:24 NIV) We don’t know all the details of the interaction between Joseph and Mary. Obviously, he found out that she was “with child.” Undoubtedly, Mary tried to explain, but her explanation would have seemed to far fetched to smack of any reality.
But then we see angelic intervention for Joseph, just as their had been the angelic news for Mary. “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20 NIV)
This dream must have been very significant. It was powerful enough for Joseph not to “brush it off” as the conflict of his own heart, or excessive pondering of Mary’s justification.
Finally, we see a just man operates in faith and obedience. “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife…” (Matthew 1:24 NIV) Joseph’s actions revealed his obedience to the angelic revelation and a step of faith. He did not know what the future would hold, but was confident of being direct by the Lord Himself.
This faith and obedience would be repeated at least two more times. An angel would visit Joseph and tell him to flee to Egypt and then would give a warning as he prepared to return to Israel. This resulted in Joseph returning to Nazareth. In his actions of obedience we see the fulfillment of two prophecies concerning the Messiah.
As we look at the events of the birth of Jesus, Joseph reveals to us today the actions of those who are just or righteous before the Lord.
Prayer for today… Lord, enable us men and women to be those who reflect a righteous character. Give us the conviction to do the right thing in the right way. Help us to not make hasty decisions and to be open to the truth. Allow us to take those steps of faith and obedience that bring about Your will.