We get to week 4 of advent and after 2 weeks of John the Baptist being at center stage we focus on Joseph. Matthew tells us that Joseph wanted to divorce Mary quietly. He does not tell us why. Some have said it was because Joseph thought Mary had committed adultery. Some think it was because Joseph was just freaked out at the possibility of such a holy child. The angel clears this up. Mary's child is of the Holy Spirit. You, Joseph, are to be the father of this child.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
We don't know a lot about Joseph. It is likely he was already planning to allow Mary to remain a virgin. Even in our text the angel does not have to tell him not to sleep with her. Matthew tell us he does not but it seems like it was already his plan because no new command was recorded. But beyond that Joseph is really being asked to do a lot. He had to be father to the messiah. What were his qualifications? He was a carpenter. How was that supposed to work? Kings were not raised by carpenters back then. Yet it says Joseph awoke and did as he was told.
Why did this happen? Because Mary needed to be a virgin. Why was that? She needed to be set apart for God. Not in a public way but in a private and personal way. Only a few people knew about it but that was OK. She was consecrated to God and God did amazing things through her. Joseph's sacrifice was part of it too.
We can wonder about the sacrifices we make. What difference does it make if I am pure? It matters a lot. We need to consecrate our most personal space. They say your true self is revealed when nobody is looking. What do you do when nobody else will know? That is the true self God wants you to give Him. That is what it means to give your heat to Jesus. Can God give you a command about sex and marriage and have you do exactly as He said? Even if that command means you have to reorder the rest of your life? That is what Joseph did.