A Few Good Men

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Very little is said about Joseph, the earthy father of Jesus, in the Scriptures. In fact, very little is said about Mary either. But here in Matthew 1 we discover a little about the character of the man whose God-given responsibility was caring for the child, Jesus.

Mary was “pledged” to Joseph (Matthew 1:18) which was as good as being married. So when it was discovered that she was pregnant, and not with Joseph’s child, the man had options to consider.

The law said that Mary could be publicly stoned to death for her betrayal of the man to whom she was promised. Many men, to defend their honour (or satisfy their jealous and/or vindictive nature), would have been happy to throw the first stone. But not Joseph.

Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public shame, he had in mind to divorce her quietly” (1:19).

A legalistic man would have had Mary stoned. A righteous man viewed her with compassion and wished to do her as little harm as possible.

But God required Joseph to go beyond being a righteous, compassionate man. The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph (1:20) and asked him to assume responsibility for a child that wasn’t his, and to allow people to think that both he and Mary had broken the rules (after all, how many would actually believe that her child was divinely conceived?).

And Joseph, that good man, did as he was asked.

But Joseph went one step further. Understanding Who the child was that his bride was carrying, the Scriptures say, “…he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son” (1:25). He held back on what was his marital right because he was a righteous man and respected the gift God had given his wife.

Mary is much admired for her submission to the will of God under difficult circumstances. But Joseph too, deserves to be respected for his willingness to be the brunt of ridicule, condemnation and gossip despite the fact that his actions were beyond reproach.

He is among those who can be numbered “a few good men”— better even than the characters in the movie version as good as they may have been—and without the fanfare! May God increase that number.

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