Advent Thoughts

Thursday, December 9
Matthew 1:18

It had been three long months since Joseph had seen his beloved Mary. We are left with the mystery of how and when he knew of her pregnancy so this is a good point to again employ our Spirit-controlled imagination. Did he see her rounded belly as the met upon her return from Elizabeth? Did he overhear whispers at the village well? Did Mary herself take him aside to relate the unimaginable work of God?

According to Jewish law, their engagement was just as binding as marriage and her obvious unfaithfulness to her future husband constituted adultery. Their engagement could only be terminated by a divorce certificate so Joseph faced a serious dilemma. To all appearances, she had been unfaithful, and the truthful explanation Mary gave him could not be verified.

Matthew uses a phrase that sheds little light: …before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Hoy Spirit. “Was found” can be translated “it was discovered” and some scholars paraphrase it “Joseph discovered,” but while there is no linguistic proof for that we can easily imagine the storm of indecision that rocks this righteous man’s world,
Although Paul is the apostle who gives us reams of information about grace and Jesus lived the perfect balance of grace and law, could it that Joseph is the first New Testament example of grace?

Before we look at dreams and angels, sit quietly with Joseph. What does a righteous person do when faced with situations not covered by rules or at least covered by heart-breaking rules? Will Joseph satisfy the law and remain upright in the culture’s eyes? How do we live by grace when everything seems to demand law? Looking squarely at yourself, are you more likely to act on the basis of law or grace? Is there anyone in your life–or people in your culture–you’ve decided deserve only law? What will happen if you choose grace? What are the risks? What does Joseph risk?

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