DayBreaks for 12/22/17: The Man Who Loved Mary
Matthew 1:19 (ESV) – And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
He is the forgotten man – the man in the shadows. The man who takes a backseat at every Christmas season and yet he is there quietly supporting his beloved, Mary. He is never mentioned by Paul in any of his writings, and the earliest gospel, Mark, does not mention him either. Some look to Joseph as the patron saint of workers as he was a laborer. Some translate his work as “carpenter”, but the term means laborer or craftsman meaning he could have been a carpenter, stone mason, metal worker or some other artisan. He was last mentioned in Scripture in Luke when Jesus was twelve. Had he been present at the crucifixion, he would have been responsible for the body of Jesus, but that job fell to Joseph of Arimathea. Most believe that he died long before the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
This morning, as I read the verse above from Matthew 1, I was struck in a new way as I read about Joseph. When I’d read it before, I tended to just skim over it, but for some reason, not today. Joseph was a just man – a “good” man, if any can be called that. I tried to imagine the feelings that must have welled up inside him when he heard that Mary was with child. I would imagine that there was some anger initially, yielding to disappointment and heartbreaking pain as he had to have assumed she’d been with someone else (at least until his visit from the angel informed him otherwise). Do you know how that must have felt? Can you imagine it?
But the scripture goes on to say that he was unwilling to put her to shame. Why? There can only be one reason that I can think of: he loved Mary. Deeply, passionately and without reservation – he loved her.
And then comes the visit from the angel and his soul is flooded with relief – at least partially. The relief in knowing she’d not slept with someone else had to be palpable, but yet there was a lingering problem – a problem that would only grow for nine months: Mary was pregnant and it could not be hidden. So when Joseph accepted the words of the angel at face value, he was also accepting the fact that he, too, would be the object of scorn and ridicule, that he would be suspected of having defiled Mary prior to the wedding. So why did he willingly accept it? I believe there are two reasons: 1) he was a just man – a good man who didn’t want to bring shame to Mary and have her bear it all by herself; 2) he loved her with all his heart.
Christmas is a season that is all about love. We speak often of God’s love for us in sending Jesus. We see the beaming face of Mary, alight with the glow of the star and oil lamps as she cradles her newborn Son and we can see the love in her eyes at the miracle she holds. And there, in the background where he has been content to be for two thousand years, stands Joseph, a just man who loved Mary.
PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the example of love of this man of the shadows, Joseph. May we love so selflessly! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.