WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
DECEMBER 24, 2022
TOPIC: SUPPOSE YOU WERE JOSEPH
BY T. O. BANSO
“Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly” (Matthew 1:19 New Living Translation).
One of the main characters in the Christmas story that we must not overlook is Joseph, the husband of Mary. This was a young man who thought of starting his own family. He was engaged to Mary, a virgin, most probably from the tribe of Judah and the line of David like himself (Luke 1:27, 32; Matthew 1:20). But before they could start living together as husband and wife, he learnt that Mary was pregnant. What!
We don’t know how Joseph first got to know about Mary’s pregnancy. He could have started as a rumour or Joseph noticed some changes in Mary. But most likely, Mary called him and informed him that she was pregnant and explained the circumstances that led to it, which must have sounded unbelievable to Joseph.
It would have been an embarrassment to Joseph. He must have been greatly troubled. It appeared that his hope of getting married had suffered a setback. What would he do? If he had discussed this with some people, they would have given him different pieces of advice. But they could all have concluded that Mary was a wayward girl and he must have nothing to do with her again.
How does one believe a wife’s story that an angel appeared to her and told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and the power of the Most High would overshadow her, and she would become pregnant and give birth to a child who would be holy and called the Son of God? (Luke 1:35). How does one believe the story that after this visit, she just became pregnant without any sexual relations with any man?
It must have sounded impossible to Joseph. Nothing like that had ever happened. He could have thought that even if there must be such a strange pregnancy, why must his fiancée be the guinea pig? Joseph made up his mind about what to do. Going ahead with the marriage was out of the question. He loved Mary but the minimum he thought he could do to help her was to divorce her secretly.
Matthew 1:19 says, “Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly” (New Living Translation). The New King James Version puts it thus: “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.”
However, there was a twist. Matthew 1:20-21 says, “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins’” (New King James Version).
What the angel said, in essence, was that Joseph was wrong in his decision. The angel’s narrative confirmed all the explanations that Mary must have made to Joseph to convince him that her pregnancy was through the power of the Holy Spirit and not that she was unfaithful to him.
Suppose you were Joseph, what would you have done in this circumstance? As said in Matthew 1:18, “before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (New King James Version). That’s not good news to any man who is engaged to a lady. It would destabilize him. The intervention of the angel confirming the woman’s defence may or may not help the matter depending on who is the husband.
Suppose you were Joseph, what would you have done? Would you have chosen to divorce such a wife secretly or would you have exposed her to public ridicule as a retaliation for her action? If you had an angelic encounter as Joseph did, would the explanations of the angel have made you change your mind to divorce your wife secretly or even disgrace her publicly? What would you have done?
Hear what Joseph did: “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS” (Matthew 1:24-25 New King James Version). Verse 16 describes Joseph as the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus called Christ or the Messiah. But Joseph was not the biological father. In fact, Joseph did not have sexual relations with Mary until she gave birth to her firstborn Son, Jesus. In other words, Mary remained a virgin until Jesus was born.
If I may ask again, suppose you were Joseph, how would you have handled a situation where you suddenly find a lady you were engaged to pregnant before marriage? Matthew 1:19 says, “Because Mary’s husband, Joseph, was a good man, he did not want to disgrace her in public, so he planned to divorce her secretly” (New Century Version). Joseph didn’t want to humiliate Mary because he was a good man (New Living Translation), a righteous man (World English Bible), or an upright man (Bible in Basic English).
Joseph, a good man, reversed his decision to divorce Mary secretly and obeyed the word of the Lord by the angel. Despite the stigma associated with such a pregnancy, Joseph took care of Mary. Joseph obeyed God despite the possible ridicule from his family and friends.
When it was time for the census that the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed should be taken throughout the Roman Empire, Joseph took along a heavily pregnant Mary to Bethlehem. Mary fell into labour in Bethlehem and gave birth to her firstborn Son whom Joseph named Jesus (Matthew 1:25b). But the baby was not his.
After the birth of Jesus, Herod wanted to kill Him. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee to Egypt with the child and Mary. Joseph did so that night and stayed there until the death of Herod (Matthew 2:13-15). He endured the discomfort of relocation to protect a child that was not his! Would you have done that?
Following the death of Herod, Joseph again obeyed the instruction of an angel in a dream to return to the land of Israel (Matthew 2:19-23). Would you have obeyed or would you have said that you had already settled in Egypt and not moved again? Would you have been flexible in the hand of God or would He have been unable to make you change your decision?
In Matthew 13:55, the people of Nazareth where Joseph and his family lived described Jesus as the carpenter’s son. Joseph was a carpenter. Mark 6:3a records them as describing Jesus as “the carpenter, the Son of Mary.” Obviously, Joseph must have taught him carpentry. Although he was not the biological father of Jesus, he trained Him. He took care of Him.
In Luke 2, at twelve years of age, Jesus, unknown to Mary and Joseph, stayed back in Jerusalem during the family’s trip to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When they realized He was missing and was not found among their relatives and friends, they returned to look for Him.
After three days, they finally found Him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, discussing deep questions with them. Mary told Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously” (Luke 2:48 New King James Version). Joseph was a righteous man. He took a keen interest in the welfare of the child that was not his.
Suppose you were Joseph, what would have been your attitude to Mary and her child, Jesus? How do you relate to children who are not your biological children that God has put under your care? Do you maltreat or abuse them? Do you exploit them?
Do you know that it’s possible nobody would have known about Joseph if not because of Jesus? Joseph was not the only carpenter in Nazareth. Can you remember the name of any other carpenter? You don’t know the small boy or girl currently under your care who will announce you to the world later. How are you treating him or her?
That girl, an orphan, living with you may become another Esther tomorrow. Are you taking good care of her as Mordecai did? Mordecai brought up Hadassah (Esther), his uncle’s daughter, an orphan. He adopted her as his own daughter. not knowing she would become a queen one day (Esther 2:7).
Children are a heritage or gift from the LORD (Psalm 127:3). I pray that God finds you faithful in discharging your responsibilities towards them whether they are your biological children, adopted children, or other children under your care.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to be sensitive to and obey your voice and guidance. Help me to be flexible in the hand of God. Father, help me to be a faithful steward. Let me not fail in Your assignments for me, particularly caring for those under me.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful r messages by T.O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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