Sunday, December 2, 2007
He couldn't have been happier with the way in which his life was finally turning out. A hard-working tradesman who plied his craft with the best of them, he had met a beautiful young girl and fallen in love at first sight. Sure she was much younger than him, but he was determined to have her in his life. He continued to pursue her gently, and finally got up the courage to ask for her hand in marriage.She was a very young girl, much younger than he was, yet she was in some ways wise beyond her years. She wasn't completely sold on the man who was pursuing her affections, but her family was completely taken with him. After all, he was a hard worker who would absolutely be able to provide for their daughter. He was ruggedly handsome and possessed a maturity that told them the man would treat their daughter right. So the young girl somewhat grudgingly entered into the engagement.The engagement period was going along smoothly until one night the young lady realized that she was pregnant. By now you have figured out, in all likelihood, that this young woman was named Mary, and her fiancee was named Joseph. She learns of the pregnancy when an angel appears to her and announces to her that the child has been created by God through the Holy Spirit.Now this creates many problems for the couple. How was anyone supposed to believe Mary when she revealed the news to her family that she was pregnant, and that she was to bear the Son of God from her womb? Of course, no one would believe such an outlandish story. They would all believe that she had a secret affair going on with one of the young men from the area, or that perhaps she had been violated by a soldier.Mary got up the courage to tell her story to her family, and almost immediately there was tremendous skepticism and antagonism. Her fiancee Joseph was crushed, though not embarrassed. As described in the gospel of Matthew (1:19), he was "a righteous man", and so decided to set their relationship aside in a quiet manner. He would make no accusations against her, and would bow out peacefully. Fact was, he still cared deeply for her.That night, Joseph was awoken by the appearance of the same angel who had visited Mary. The angel said to him "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."Joseph was a practical man, but this was no dream. It was not the manifestation of some meal that he had eaten that evening working on his digestive tract as he slept. It was not his conscience acting in a dream state due to his continued affections for Mary. He was very much aware that what he had experienced was real, and he was not about to question his God. Joseph got out of bed, and began to do as the angel of the Lord had commanded. He took Mary into his home as his wife, and would forever after be a father to the Son of God in every way that is meant. He had no relations with Mary until after she had bore the child, whom they faithfully named Jesus. He taught Jesus practical lessons in carpentry and in life, and Jesus grew up over the next couple of decades in his house.The story of Joseph is a timeless one of commitment and sacrifice, and of faith. Joseph was under extreme pressure from the people and powers of this world to turn his back on the woman that he loved. He was considered a fool by some, a martyr by others. Yet he was actually neither of these. What Joseph showed is that he was a man of God, a man who listened to what the Lord said and put that first in his life.We can all take a lesson from this righteous man as we move through life. Many times we have been and will be called by God to do something, say something, act in a certain way, treat someone in some way. In responding we may be asked to make a sacrifice, or to go out on a limb, to leave our own comfort zone, perhaps even to embarrass ourselves. When that time comes, remember Joseph, the earthly father of our Lord.