Today, we look to the story of Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, a good and decent man who learned that his young bride-to-be was with child and who knew that he was not the father.
Often God chooses to use people who live in relative obscurity and whose lives and spirits reflect true humility. It is this humility that stands out when considering Joseph and his story. He doesn’t speak a single word in the New Testament. He is mentioned only a handful of times in the Bible. The final time we hear of Joseph, Jesus is twelve years old. We do know from Mark 6:3 that Joseph was a carpenter.
Humble, hardworking, honest, a craftsman, a person who took pride in his work—these are the images that come to mind when we think of Joseph the carpenter.
(Adapted from The Journey, pp. 38-43)
God is doing something remarkable
If Mary was taken aback by the visit of the angel, there was someone else equally shocked: Joseph, who learned his bride-to-be was pregnant and that he was not father. Joseph must not have believed her since he began looking for a way to break off the engagement.
It’s not hard to imagine what Joseph felt upon learning of Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness. Devastated, betrayed, dishonored, humiliated, and hurt. As she tried to explain, these feelings would give way to anger. His trust had been violated.
But at some point, his anger must have given way to concern for Mary’s life. If he told others what had happened, she would be stoned to death. Mary’s life was in his hands. Joseph was willing to do this because he was a “righteous man.” Righteous not from seeking to obey the law or his pursuit of justice; it was Joseph’s compassion and mercy that led Matthew to call him righteous.
As Joseph began the journey back to Bethlehem, he might well have been convinced it was the worst day of his life. This was not a journey he anticipated. This was not a journey he wanted to take. The road back felt, literally, like hell.
Have you ever taken a journey like that? The worst journey of your life? Your hopes and dreams crushed and you simply don’t want to go on?
At that very moment when Joseph felt at his lowest, God was at work in Mary’s womb, doing the greatest thing God had done since the creation of the human race. God was orchestrating the birth of the Savior. God was inviting Joseph to play a critical part in this plan, but he could not see this yet.
When life gets hard, remember Joseph.
When life is painful, remember Joseph.
Just as it seems to be going all wrong, it could be then that God is doing something remarkable you simply cannot yet see.
As Joseph slept that night, he had a dream. “Joseph,” the messenger said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21, NRSV).
(Adapted from The Journey, pp. 43-46)
The worst journey of your life?
What did God teach you through it?