Matthew 1:18-19 NLT
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, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
These days when a guy’s fiancee turns up pregnant like Mary did, they typically don’t “break the engagement quietly”. More often than not, today’s Josephs strive to make the break up, and disgrace as spectacular as possible. A favourite forum to break the news is the Internet. Some go as far as posting nudes of their erstwhile fiancee for billions of Internet users to view.
While posting nudes is definitely an extreme action for anyone to take in vengeance for any kind of romantic betrayal, the irony is that it pales into insignificance when compared to what would have happened to Mary if Joseph wasn’t such a good man who chose to keep things quiet.
The punishment at that time for having sex out of wedlock was death. To the puritanical enforcers of religious law of those days, What greater proof of sex would there have been than turning up pregnant? Were Joseph a different, vengeful person, Mary would have been killed.
Although some may view him as some inconsequential carpenter toiling away in the back streets of Bethlehem; in reality, Joseph was a man who lived far ahead of his time. His stellar example is so much more remarkable because although he lived under the law, he chose to live by grace: rather than be legalistic and disgrace Mary, he graciously decided to preserve whatever honour she may have been able to salvage from her situation.
What a stellar example of grace! Joey was a good man indeed.
Of course the fuller picture of grace only emerges when Christ (the son of Joseph and Mary) goes to the cross for us. He bears the disgrace of our sin on a cross of shame and sorrow. The equivalent of that would have been Joseph offering to be stoned to death for Mary’s pregnancy which he knew nothing about.
It is to this extreme life of grace that Jesus calls us. He says to lay down our lives for others just as he did for us.
Have you received grace? Will you pass it on?