Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Like Adopted Father, Like Adopted Son - Devotion on Matthew 1

One of my favorite verses in Scripture in Matthew 1:19. Joseph has just found out that Mary, his fiance, is pregnant. Not believing her story of "No, really, Joseph, God miraculously made me pregnant," he can only feel betrayed, hurt, disappointed, and angry.

But he's also merciful. He doesn't want to call her out to public disgrace or punishment. He has every right to do so, both legally and morally, but he knows that if he makes a scene about breaking off the engagement, Mary will live in disgrace. Under Old Testament Law, she could have been stoned for having sex before marriage (since no one else would believe her virgin birth story either), but because the Romans were ruling Israel, the Jews were not allowed to administer the death penalty. Instead, Mary would get off "easy" by being a public outcast, a woman that no respectable Israelite would associate with, much less agree to marry.

So Joseph is graceful in minimizing Mary's disgrace by breaking off the engagement quietly.

But then, after the angel appears to him, Joseph agrees to go through with the engagement. What would this have meant for him?

It means that (again, because not many people would believe their story about how Mary got pregnant) most people would assume that Joseph had sex with Mary before their wedding. Now, instead of Mary living in disgrace, Joseph would be. He would take Mary's disgrace on himself and bear the brunt of their supposed indiscretion publicly.

And isn't that what Jesus did? He grew up to take our disgrace on Himself when He bore the guilt of our sins on the cross.

I can't help but wonder if Jesus didn't remember seeing Joseph taking the shame for his family as He grew up . I can't help but wonder if God didn't place Jesus in Joseph's hands to look up to and learn the lesson of sacrificing for someone else.

How is God wanting to use Joseph's example to inspire you to take someone else's disgrace on yourself? What sacrifices can you make personally to help lift the burden of shame or guilt from someone else?

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