Joseph, The Hero
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’”
Matthew 1:20 (NIV)
In today’s society marriage is becoming rare; it is difficult to comprehend the scandal behind Mary’s pregnancy in the Judea of Biblical times. In Britain up until the 1960s, pregnancy before marriage was frowned on, indeed pre-war, the shame connected with pre-marriage pregnancy was great. Daughters and sisters were banished from families. Illegitimacy carried a stigma which remained with the person throughout their lives.
Mary and Joseph were betrothed. The Jewish betrothal in Christ’s time was very different to what we know today as engagement. The families of the bride and groom met, with witnesses present. The young man would give the young woman either a gold ring, or some article of value, or simply a document in which he promised to marry her. Then he would say to her: ‘See by this ring [or this token] thou art set apart for me.’ There was a distinct difference between betrothal and marriage and at least a whole year elapsed between the betrothal and the actual wedding, during which time they did not live together.
Totally contrary to the traditions of the society in which they lived, Mary was pregnant. She knew it was going to happen. Luke 1:18-19 relates, “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” Here was a man slow to anger, full of contemplation. Verses 20-21 continue, “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”
Joseph was a man of integrity and faith, which is why God chose him. Can we imagine the responsibility he felt? The burden was great but he trusted God, he had total confidence in the God of his fathers. We know little of Joseph’s later life, although conjecture and hypothesis abound, but one thing we can be grateful for is his conviction and trust – a hero for God.
Thank you Father for your choice of Joseph as the man who would protect and provide for Mary and the infant Jesus – you are the infinite source of wisdom and understanding.
Study by Irene Wilson
About the Author:
Irene Wilson is a Deaconess in the Watford Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, where she also serves on the Pastoral Council.
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