Today’s exhortation – life study of Joseph (father of Jesus)
I want us to carry out a life study of a biblical character – Joseph the earthly father of Jesus. What kind of person was he and what lessons can be learnt from him? The most striking thing about him is that he was a kind, compassionate and righteous. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced. He knew the child was not his own, and Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness carried a grave social stigma. Joseph not only had the right to divorce Mary, under Jewish law she could be put to death by stoning. But here’s where Joseph’s character shines through. The bible says, “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 1:19).
Although Joseph’s initial reaction was to break the engagement, the appropriate thing for a righteous man to do, he treated Mary with extreme kindness. He did not want to cause her further shame, so he decided to act quietly. In today’s society, we find people’s indiscretions plastered over the news and people publicly shamed. That’s not God’s way. This is one of the reasons Joseph was chosen by God to look after the child Jesus. God trusted Joseph not to be rash, however He sent an angel to reassure Joseph. What can be learnt from this? “Mercy triumphs over judgement!” (James 2:13).