As we advance through the Christmas story, it is always interesting to take a look at Joseph. Scripture doesn’t tell us very much about them early, but at his introduction in the book of Matthew, we find out an important detail about Joseph’s character. In Matthew 1:19, we find out that Joseph was a man who was, “faithful to the law.”
We read this phrase immediately after finding out that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. This serves as almost another reminder that Jesus was not of human origin. In case you missed it the first time that Mary was pregnant through the Holy Spirit, and this reaffirms the fact that Joseph was a man who was faithful to the law. He would not have violated the law and been with Mary prior to marriage because he was a man who was faithful to it.
There can often times be this tendency to need to hear things twice. I can imagine someone reading this passage the first time and saying, “I can’t possibly believe that there was a virgin birth. That passage must mean something else. Maybe it means that her pregnancy was blessed by the Holy Spirit or something like that.”
However, as we advance to the next verse, Matthew reaffirms Joseph’s commitment to the law, so the idea of this Immaculate Conception is even reaffirmed again. If Joseph was a man who was not committed to the law, then it could have been his child. However, putting both of these facts together, it is obvious that Matthew is trying to make sure the reader cannot miss that miracle of the situation.
Now, returning to the specific character of Joseph, he was a man who attempted to follow the law, but he was also a man who was willing to do that without praise. He was clearly humble as evidenced by the fact that he was going to divorce Mary quietly if she had in fact been unfaithful to him. He could have made a big show and disgraced her publicly. After all, all of their friends and family would have wondered why their marriage fell apart. A public divorce would have settled all questions and clearly demonstrated that it was not Joseph’s fault.
However, by hypothetically keeping this story private, he would have invited people to speculate. They would have wondered if something else was really wrong in the situation that drove Mary and Joseph apart.
He was going to do the right thing and even in a potentially embarrassing situation for himself, he wasn’t going to publicize Mary’s apparent predicament. He was going to do what was best for her and keep everything quiet regardless of how it made him appear.
I think that we need more people like Joseph in the world. We need people who are faithful to God and not only acting faithfully to look good in public. Joseph was willing to follow God and do the right thing regardless of how he looked doing it.