Day 14: Great Faith and Grace and Seeing the ‘More Than’

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. -Matthew 1:18-19

Can you imagine what it would feel like to find out that the person you had been pledge to marry was with child? Or, for us girls, the equivalent: having a child with another woman?

Joseph. A name meaning he will add or the more than. God did both.

We know so little about Joseph. He is only mentioned in the birth and childhood stories of Jesus. He was named after an ancient patriarch who used his success in Egypt to save his family and a  future nation. Joseph was a carpenter who lived in the town of Nazareth. His ancestors were from Bethlehem, so when a Roman ruler, Caesar Augustus, wanted a census, Joseph had to go back to Bethlehem, even though his wife was well along in her pregnancy. Joseph was not the father. While Christ came as the Son of Man, He was never the son of man.

The most important thing we know about Joseph is that when the time called, he displayed great faith and grace. Mary was the pure young woman he had fallen in love with and was about to make his wife. He then found out she was pregnant. While Mary had the benefit of the an angel to explain her unique conception, Joseph had not been visited yet. All he had was Mary’s word. So what was that conversation like? No, she hadn’t slept with another man. Yes, she was pregnant. And yes, a spiritual being had told her that she would conceive by a unique act of God-and as though that wasn’t enough-the child in her womb would be the Savior of the world.

Joseph didn’t act rashly, even though he was baffled by her condition. He instead sought wisdom and carefully thought of others. He was disappointed in the apparent betrayal, yet believing, he made no haste. He contemplated putting her away. He considered divorcing her quietly, so as not to bring her shame.  As a praying man, he waited on God, and his love and patience for Mary were rewarded.

Why did Joseph believe her? Why did he change his first plans to quietly divorce her so as not to expose her to public shame? Engagements were so serious then, to break one off amounted to a divorce. Why did he choose instead to take her as his wife-and then abstain from sexual relations with her until the birth of the child? If you were in his shoes, would you have believed Mary?

God understood that Joseph couldn’t wrap his mind around the situation and He rewarded Joseph’s patience and attitude towards Mary by revealing His redemptive plan. Joseph received a direct and distinct revelation from God, and once his fears were banished, his line of duty was made clear. God revealed the more than of Joseph’s life. God added.

Where suspicion once lurked, strong faith now reigned as he looked into the lovely face of Jesus. He tenderly cared for young Jesus as if the Child were His own. Filled with more awe than a person could possibly bear due to the fact that his wife Mary had been handpicked by God to be the mother of the Lord his people had eagerly waited for, we can imagine how he would manage every detail of the Nativity. At last God’s promise had been fulfilled and before him was the Babe through whom God’s covenants would be established.

Little more is shared about Joseph beyond that point, but can be sure that between Joseph and Jesus there was an affection strong and deep.

Think of Joseph. Think of him looking into Mary’s eyes, hearing her account, knowing in his heart it was true, and having the courage to act on that faith, even though he may have had doubts. As nonsensical as it seemed, he believed it. As much as the idea of a virginal conception violates both logic and science, he knew it was possible with God. As risky as it was to stay with Mary and be branded by others as the hapless dupe of an immoral woman, Joseph decided to take that leap of faith.

That is true faith. It wasn’t just that he trusted Mary; he trusted God. That God could; that God might; that God would.

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