- Who? - As you read through the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17 (and yes, you should read it), what names do you recognize?
There are people whom we remember fondly from the Old Testament as being strong in the faith - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth and Boaz, King David, and King Josiah.
Then there are people who are a little more infamous - Tamar (who tricked her father-in-law into impregnating her by pretending to be a prostitute), Rahab the prostitute (who actually was a prostitute and betrayed her native city of Jericho), and Bathsheba (named here only as the woman formerly known as Uriah's wife).
And, of course, you know about Eliakim in verse 13, right? (Not to be confused with Eliud in verses 14-15.)
Oh, you've never heard of Eliakim or Eliud? That's because the Bible never tells us anything about them other than their names. You see, the genealogy of Jesus shows us that God can use anyone to accomplish His purposes. To bring about the birth of Jesus, God used the famous faithful, the infamous, and the unknown, otherwise important people down through the generations.
Fortunately, you and I will probably not be counted among the famous faithful (who wants the pressure of being famous anyway?), or the infamous (yes, we sin, but no one is writing stories about us). Instead, we will gladly be counted among the unimportant in the grand scheme of things. The gladly unimportant whom God gladly uses.
He used Eliakim and Eliud to help bring the Savior into the world! How can God use you, oh, ye of little importance?
- Like Adopted Father, Like Adopted Son - 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?