Have you ever noticed the similarities between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters? Have you ever noticed how they sometimes stand alike, or say certain phrases in a similar manner? We tend to pattern our behaviours after those who influence us the most. That’s why children mimic their parents.
Joseph, betrothed to Mary, found out during the engagement period that she was pregnant. They both knew that he was not the father. The couple lived a long, long way from 21st century America or Europe where such a thing would cause barely a ripple for the woman. In that day, Mary could have been killed for such an obvious indiscretion.
Being a garrison for Roman soldiers, Nazareth was a rough and tumble town where immorality had become legendary. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” was the way one person had put it. Rumours swirled that Mary had been screwing around with, at the very least, one of the soldiers.
I know several people who have found out on the morning of their wedding day, that their intended partner had been sexually involved with someone else the night before. That’s usually pretty infuriating for anyone. On the other hand, I have to say, the people to whom this happened really shouldn’t have been surprised. Neither they nor the people they were marrying shared the characteristic of being men and women of integrity. The only thing that kept either person from screwing around on the other was opportunity or the lack there of.
Not so with Mary or Joseph. Both Mary and Joseph longed to be obedient to God. Both Mary and Joseph had experienced God’s love and they knew that love meant commitment. Both Mary and Joseph knew that commitment to God and obedience to God sometimes came at great cost.
Mary, with her ridiculous story of a talking angel and God’s Spirit “hovering over her,” would have been a laughing stock in the community. Rather than rejecting her, as he was tempted to do, and:
. Like his future Son would do for us, Joseph set aside his own pride and joined his bride in her suffering.
. Like his future Son would one day demonstrate for us, Joseph opened himself up to rejection, abuse, misunderstanding, unfair judging and mocking.
. Like his future Son, an innocent, Joseph allowed people to think whatever they wanted of him and his wife.
. Like his future Son would one day demonstrate for us, love compelled Joseph to stand by the one he had promised to protect regardless of the cost.
Love, the one attribute that bears the cost of commitment. Love, the connecting characteristic between Father and Son, between Joseph and Jesus, and if we let Him between Jesus and us.