Day 2 of the Nativity story: Joseph

This will be a shorter scripture study today. The subject matter is the mortal father of the nativity story, Joseph, and there isn't as much about him in the scriptures as there is about Mary. But within these few verses from Matthew 1:18-25, we get a glimpse into what kind of man he was.

Now, as it is written, the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

A rather noble thing for a man who probably would have been totally within his rights to make a public example of his intended bride (side note: I'm assuming that Mary and Joseph were in an engagement sort of arrangement, since we know from the above scripture that they had not consummated their marriage). Many men would have been aggressive about having been wronged in this way, yet Joseph, even after thinking Mary was unfaithful, must have still cared for her to not want to make a public issue out of the situation. And he was called "just." Of course, God the Father would have wanted a just man to be the mortal father of His Son. A just father would have seen the divine attributes in his adopted son and would have created a family environment designed to foster and revere those character traits.

But while he thought on these things,...

He thought and pondered before he acted. A fine example of a considerate man. I am moved to wonder how often I act before I think, and what do I miss because I have done so? Had Joseph not thought before he acted, he might not have received the following blessing. The Lord waited for Joseph's reaction to Mary's surprise pregnancy. Joseph was given time to put his agency to the test. I notice that he didn't get a visitation from the angel at the same time Mary did, so I am led to think that Joseph was given a test by the Lord.

behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

When I wake up from a dream, I am usually pretty glad that it was a dream. But what a dream! Like Mary, Joseph was given no instructions on how to care for this child, even though he was chosen to be Christ's father because of his abilities and characteristics, which he probably didn't realize he possessed as of yet. And here he gets the assurance that Mary has not been unfaithful to him. He receives this confirmation, this blessing, for his thinking before acting and his nobility in showing her compassion. I also like how the angel reminds him that he is a son of David, and noble in his own heritage. The son (great grandson to the 12th or something degree) of a revered king shall raise the Son of the most revered King, God the Father. Very fitting.

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Joseph recognized this as a vision, and not just a regular dream. That still takes faith, though. I can imagine that people he knew must have ridiculed him for taking stock in a dream when the "circumstances" were so obvious to the rest of the world. I can identify with that. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have faith in the truthfulness of the visions given to Joseph Smith, even though many of those around me ridicule my belief in some guy's "dream" or "pretense." Joseph, like Mary, may have sorrowed because of the reaction of others, but he didn't let it stop him from doing what was right. And I need to be more like that.

Hmm, it wasn't as short as I thought it would be. I hope you don't mind.


Jen said…
I've always wondered about Joseph and the amount of faith he must have had in Heavenly Father and his future bride. Can you imagine that ridicule the towns folk around him must have made him feel, but he stuck by Mary's side. For that he must have been quite a wonderful man to marry.