Reading: Matthew 1:18-21
Verse 19: “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
Matthew’s gospel begins with the genealogy of Jesus. He begins with Abraham and includes David. After pausing to mention the exile, he continues on to Joseph. Next comes today’s text. The story begins with Joseph learning that Mary is pregnant. They are “pledged” or engaged but this news arrives “before they came together.” Joseph knows without a doubt that he is not the father.
In verses 19 we read, “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” There is a lot to learn about Joseph in this verse. First, he is righteous. Joseph is upright, devout, a follower of God’s law. Second, he is compassionate. Joseph does not want to bring public embarrassment upon Mary. Being righteous, he would understand the various ways that this engagement could legally end. He chooses the least impactful to Mary. Third, Joseph is practical. He follows the law with compassion. Joseph decided to divorce her quietly.
But God has other plans. In verses 20-21 we learn that an angel comes to Joseph in a dream. The angel speaks to “Joseph son of David.” Wait! Joseph’s dad is named Jacob. Matthew is connecting Joseph to the prophecies, to the line of David. The angel continues, informing Joseph that the baby has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. Encouraged to move forward without fear, Joseph will take Mary as his wife. A righteous and compassionate man steps forward in trust and faith. What an example for us all!
Prayer: Lord, guide me to be both righteous and compassionate. Show me how to balance and intertwine these two qualities that can be in conflict. Through the power of the same Holy Spirit, let both work together, striking a balance that reveals your glory and love to the world. Amen.