The Compassion of Joseph

“When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.” — Matthew 1:24, NLT

We’ve all read the first chapter of Matthew; the lineage of Jesus, the story of Mary’s pregnancy, her marriage to Joseph. And Mary is often the focus of discussions; her obedience as a servant of the Lord.

But what about Joseph? Imagine; the love of Joseph’s life, to whom he is betrothed, comes to him with a story. She confides to him that she is pregnant, and claims that the pregnancy is divine, as a result of the power of the Holy Spirit (Mt 18:18). 

I put myself in Joseph’s position. How angry, hurt, and broken-hearted he must have been! To think that his fiancee could do such a thing! Of course he didn’t believe that her pregnancy was of divine origin!

He was within his right to haul her before the religious leaders, divorce her (as we know, in those days, betrothal was equivalent to marriage in all ways but carnal) and have her cast out. Her destitution would be all but guaranteed; as a woman of low means, she would not have had any way of supporting herself or her child. 

But how did Joseph respond?  

“Joseph, her fiance, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.” – Matthew 18:19, NLT

 

Joseph, in his heartbreak, chose to react with kindness. He didn’t want Mary’s reputation to be damaged, and didn’t want her disgraced. How many of us would have responded in a similar manner? 

Later, the angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, telling Joseph that the story Mary has told him is true: 

“Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” — Matthew 18:20, NLT

And Joseph’s response?

“When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.” — Matthew 18:24, NLT

In addition to the kindness he extended to his fiancee, Joseph was a willing servant of the Lord. He did as he was commanded, without complaint, without question.

What a wonderful example of an earthly father Joseph must have been for Jesus, demonstrating both kindness and compassion to those around him.

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