One of my biggest fears going into my marriage with my husband was that he would cheat on me. 
*Disclaimer: I had absolutely no evidence or prior history to support this crazy fear I was harboring, but this fear was rooted in something else, which is another story for another time. I am happy to say my husband and I have been happily married for five and a half years and those fears have been laid to rest.
I know, you’re probably thinking, “what an awful way to start a blog,” but I wanted to share that because it ties into the story of a man we are going to look at in Scripture. His name was Joseph. For anyone who has remotely studied the Bible, you know that nothing in Scripture is an accident. Every little word and detail is vital to the overall message of the Bible. In Joseph’s case, there really isn’t very much said about him, yet he played a pivotal role in the person of Jesus Christ.
Some would argue, including myself, that one of the foundational parts of a successful relationship is trust. As I mentioned above, I was afraid my husband would be unfaithful because I didn’t trust him. I had no reason to doubt him, but my doubt stemmed from my own insecurities and my unwillingness to be vulnerable in our relationship. If you are with someone you don’t trust, or they have given you absolute evidence and they have broken that trust, it is an incredibly hard up-hill battle to find yourself trusting again. Trusting makes you vulnerable because you are putting the power in the trustee’s hand to take care of you, or in some cases fail you. In other words, you relinquish control. In the case of Joseph, a man betrothed to a VIRGIN girl named Mary, I imagine he lost trust in her from the moment her heard her say, “I’m pregnant.” Let’s look at Matthew 1:18-25.
In today’s culture, if you found out your soon-to-be husband or wife cheated on you, especially if it resulted in pregnancy, your foundation of trust would probably crumble. What a heartbreaking realization this would be! Perhaps you’re reading this and can absolutely relate. Learning of your loved-one’s infidelity would be crushing. Engagements today in our western civilization are nothing like the engagements or betrothals of Joseph’s time. He was Jewish. Their custom for betrothal looked something like this: Pay a bride-price—AKA fork over the money; have two witnesses hear the mutual consent of the bride and groom; the groom will declare his betrothal to his future wife. In this ancient culture, a betrothal was almost as serious as actually being married. If you batted an eye at someone that wasn’t your betrothed, it could still be considered adultery. In this culture, adultery could warrant a very public and shameful divorce, exposing the adulterer to ridicule and dishonor. In even more ancient times, adultery in Jewish Old Testament law could warrant being stoned…to death! Yikes! Although adultery is still considered shameful and a low-blow in our culture, the ramifications and consequences are not nearly as harsh as they were in Joseph’s lifetime.
What would you do if you were in Joseph’s shoes, or in this case, thonged- sandals like you see in the Jesus Movie? I know my first emotion would be anger. I would probably want to snarl and yell and throw my husband’s things at his head and then onto the street. I would then sob and feel afraid to even go near my husband. I wouldn’t want him to even look at me. After the yelling I would remain silent and only communicate when absolutely necessary. I would be too afraid to ask who or why for fear of being hurt even more. 
I wonder if Joseph felt this way, too? He was going to marry a girl who would be the future mother of his children, his lover, and equal partner in life, and here she is carrying the child of someone else. How devastating! He had every right to take her in front of a judge exposing her to everyone about what she had presumably done in secret. But he didn’t.
He didn’t react in anger. He didn’t drag her to the court demanding she be divorced from him. He didn’t yell, scream, or even touch her. Instead, he ponders. He thinks. He isn’t sure what to do, but what he is thinking of doing doesn’t sound like what I would do. He reacts quietly, JUSTLY. He CONSIDERS. He doesn’t act rashly, but thinks first. He wants Mary to go quietly without being exposed to the public ridicule. He cares enough for her to help her maintain whatever dignity she may have had left in a culture that placed a very high value on fidelity and abstinence. Perhaps his reaction doesn’t seem that insane in light of our culture because our culture doesn’t value abstinence and faithfulness nearly as much as this culture did, but if we could understand just how compassionate this gesture of Joseph towards Mary was we would see just how wonderful of a man this was to be the earthly father of Jesus Christ.
What really sticks out to me about Joseph is that he was considering being a nice guy before he received heavenly confirmation that Mary was innocent of adultery. In fact, she was still a virgin, and the boy conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit and going to be the One Who Saves. Sometimes in my own life it takes a crazy event to help me see clearly, and here Joseph’s reaction is gentle and kind without even having knowledge of the reality of the situation. What a great guy! Often we look at Mary and read how God chose her because she was virtuous, but God also wanted to use Joseph. God didn’t want Mary to raise Jesus alone. God entrusted Mary to carry His son, and He chose Joseph to raise His son.
After Joseph had the revelation that the baby was going to be the one that was prophesied about, he obeyed the messenger and stayed by Mary’s side. Not only did he take care of her through all of this—he also abstained from the consummation of their marriage. Um. Can I be awkwardly real here? That would be HARD. How selfless! Joseph knew the weight Mary was carrying. Not only was she carrying around an eight-pound baby, but the Savior of the world. He probably didn’t fully understand it all, but he put aside his control and trusted God and Mary.
In Scripture, this is Joseph’s shining moment! He put aside the possibility of being ridiculed. He could have allowed his pride and cultural pressure to leave her helpless and hopeless, but instead he looked at her with compassion and trust. Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of information on Joseph throughout the rest of Jesus’ life. We know Jesus had many half-brothers and sisters, so Joseph must have lived for a handful of years after the birth of Jesus. We also know Jesus was a carpenter, which he probably learned from Joseph. Whatever roles Joseph played in the life of Christ, it appears that the most important role was in his birth. I love how God would use a man to exhibit compassion, gentleness, and adoption in a situation that could have been very ugly. Joseph being Jesus’ earthly father, in a way, mirrors Jesus’ Heavenly Father.


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