WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
DECEMBER 24, 2020
TOPIC: SUPPOSE YOU WERE JOSEPH
BY T. O. BANSO
“Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly” (Matthew 1:19 New Living Translation).
One of the main characters in the Christmas story 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 Mary could move to his house for them to 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 must have been an embarrassment to Joseph. I believe he must have been greatly troubled. It appeared that his hope of getting married has suffered a setback. What would he do? If he had probably discussed with some people, they would have given him different pieces of advice but all coming to the conclusion that Mary was a wayward girl and he must have nothing to do with her again. They could have advised him to pay Mary back by embarrassing her the way she had done to him.
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 be called the Son of God? (Luke 1:35). How does one believe the story that after this visit, one just became pregnant without any sexual relationship with any man?
It must have sounded impossible to Joseph. Nothing like that had ever happened. He could have thought even if there must be such a strange pregnancy must why must the wife he wants to marry be the guinea pig? After much consideration of the situation, Joseph made up his mind about what to do. Going ahead with the marriage was out of the question. He had suffered enough ridicule. Apparently, 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, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly” (New Living Translation). The New King James Version says, “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, when he thought he had taken a final decision after a thorough consideration of the situation, 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 apparently confirmed all the explanations that Mary must have made to Joseph to convince him that indeed her pregnancy was 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 you would have exposed her to public ridicule to retaliate 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, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. But Joseph was not the biological father. In fact, Joseph did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. 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 you get married? 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 – a just 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. Notwithstanding the stigma associated with such a pregnancy, Joseph took care of Mary. Despite the possible ridicule from the family and friends, Joseph obeyed God.
When it was time for the census that Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed should be taken throughout the Roman Emperor, Joseph took along a heavily pregnant Mary to Bethlehem. Mary fell into labour in Bethlehem and was delivered of her firstborn Son named Jesus. “…And Joseph named him Jesus” (Matthew 1:25b New Century Version). 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?
Sequel to 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 you would have said that you had already settled in Egypt and not moving again? Would you have been flexible in the hand of God or He wouldn’t have been able to make you change your decision? Would you have allowed God to stop you?
In Matthew13:55, 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 a carpenter. 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 the 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 whom 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? 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 gift from the LORD or the heritage of the LORD (Psalm 127:3). May God find 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 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 resurrected 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 the palm tree and grow like the 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 the voice of God. 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 400 in-depth and powerful r messages by T.O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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