Matthew 1: 18-20 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
He is the oft-forgotten member of the nativity scene at Christmas: Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father. Very seldom have I heard his story preached. To me, his story is so needed today.
When Joseph became aware of Mary’s pregnancy, he could only surmise that his beloved Mary had betrayed him with another man. Yet, the Bible reveals that rather than disgrace her publicly, he chose to quietly end the engagement to her. He had the right to charge her publicly, which could have resulted in her being stoned to death.
Later, after an angel of the Lord makes him aware of how the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that his betrothed was carrying the promised Messiah. Joseph obediently took Mary as his wife, for he trusted God.
Joseph is the epitome of a compassionate Christian. He didn’t judge Mary and call for her death, even as he faced ridicule and the loss of his beloved. With his own life plans seemingly destroyed, his focus was on keeping her safe. He demonstrated his righteousness in his ability to forgive her and in his lack of a need to return hurt for hurt.
We need more compassionate Christians today like Joseph, who don’t focus on people’s sins but on their humanity. We need to remember that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
Like Joseph, we need to be more empathetic and merciful to everyone we meet, rather than judgmental and self-righteous. His story should be preached more often, as a reminder that compassion, humility, mercy, and love should be the hallmarks of our Christian walk and talk.