Today we look at the start of the story of Jesus birth in Matthew and I really want you to think about Joseph’s story here. Usually we focus on Jesus mother Mary but I want to look at Joseph this time.
Until late in the Middle Ages, with the Jews, marriage consisted of two ceremonies that were marked by celebrations at two separate times, with an interval between. First came the be-trothal; and later, the wedding. At the betrothal the woman was legally married, although she still remained in her father’s house. She could not belong to another man unless she was divorced from her betrothed. The wedding meant only that the betrothed woman, accompanied by a colourful procession, was brought from her father’s house to the house of her groom, and the legal tie with him was consummated.
Joseph was betrothed to Mary, for her to be found pregnant and it to be Joseph’s would have meant some embarrassment and shame, but for it not to be his would have been considered adultery and that was punishable by death. So Joseph decided to go through with the wedding and then to quietly divorce her later, because he didn’t want to be responsible for her death. He had made a difficult decision, with many men once the decision is made it is set in stone, and they won’t depart from it. If you are like that, take a lesson from Joseph, he had made a decision but he didn’t have all the evidence. You can read in our gospel reading today that after he made his decision he was visited that night by an angel. If you were confronted by a 7-8 ft. tall glowing being with a flaming sword and a mighty aura of authority who tells you that marriage is the right idea and the baby is God’s, would you argue? I don’t think so!
Often we make decisions without all the evidence, we make the best decision we can with the evidence we have at the time, many of us based on our emotions or circumstances without factoring in God’s opinion or what He wants – bad idea. God has big boots and if your decision sets you against his plan for your life, those boots will be firmly applied to your seat of learning, pain and suffering is a powerful teaching tool. So don’t let your decisions be set in stone without consulting Him.