Friday, February 26, 2010

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not…”

18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Matt. 1:18-20)
As I was reading this, I noticed the angel salutes Joseph as “son of David” at the very beginning. It struck me as odd that the angel would call attention to Joseph’s distinguished ancestry as a greeting preface. We are used to Jesus being called “son of David”, but it seems odd that Joseph would be given the honorific title by the angel, when we know that ultimately it rightfully belongs to Jesus. We could look at it from a cynical point of view and say that reminder could have made it harder for Joseph to espouse Mary. Why should he (with his impeccable lineage) countenance her doubtful pregnancy?

It is also likely that Joseph was unaware of his being a “son of David”. Knowledge of his right to the line must have been lost and his being a carpenter indicates that the line had sunk into obscurity over several generations and what with the Roman’s control over the nation, if there had been general awareness of his ancestry, no doubt some people would have sought him out and made him a figurehead for a rebellious movement for Israelite independence.

The thing that I realized is that the angel was referring to Joseph’s ancestry in order to help him remember what the Lord had done for his ancestors. No doubt Heavenly Father had carefully watched over the line to protect it. The implicit message was that all was right with his line and that Mary’s pregnancy was just as protected and special as his ancestry and that her child belonged in his illustrious family line.

How can this story help us today?

I think it can help in two ways. First, Joseph was thinking about what he should do about Mary. Undoubtedly he wanted to do the right thing for himself and for her. He was perfectly within his rights to divorce her (and even have her publically burned to death) but he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. If you find yourself in the situation of wondering whether you should divorce your spouse, it is encouraging to know that it is a matter that the Lord gives revelation on. Maybe that isn’t a politically correct lesson to draw from this story, but I think it is still an important one.

Second, it is good to know that the Lord knows who is to be born into our families and that he let’s us know.


Dan Olsen said...

Very enlightening comments.

Thanks for the heads up on the person that posted a comment on my blog.

I hope you guys are doing well.