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.
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?
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.
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?