As I was reading the Christmas story in Matthew, one phrase gripped me. One phrase captured my attention. One phrase would not get out of my mind. One phrase that I think Jesus wanted me to think about. So, I did. I let it grab hold of me. I went with it like a helicopter harness. It took me for a ride.
The one phrase is "he did not want to disgrace her publicly."
The whole verse reads, "Because Joseph, her husband, was a righteous man, he did not want to disgrace her publicly, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." v 19
When someone hurts you, betrays you, publicly humiliates you and your family, how do you respond? What is in your heart? When you have been unfairly treated, don't you want to expose them for their poor decisions, actions and motivations? Don't you want to hide your pain and expose their wrongdoing?
Not this Joe. Not this man who was chosen to be the stepfather of the Messiah.
Joseph wanted to protect Mary. Joseph wanted to hide her wrong doing, her shame, her sin. He did not want to disgrace her. He wanted to grace her. (We know that Mary did not need this but Joseph didn't know that.)
Who does this sound like?
Do you remember when a family ran out of wine and was about to be publicly humiliated, Jesus stepped in. Jesus did not want to disgrace this family publicly.
Do you remember when the religious leaders brought Jesus the woman caught in adultery, Jesus stepped in. He said, "Those without sin, cast the first stone." Jesus did not want to disgrace her publicly.
Do you remember when Adam and Eve disobeyed God's warning about the fruit that leads and ends in death? God stepped in. He put their sin on an animal and it paid the price of their sin. Then God covered them. God did not want to disgrace them publicly.
Do you think God chose wisely who to be the stepfather of Jesus? Joseph encourages me. Joseph inspires me. Joseph sounds a lot like his step - Son, his Savior, his Messiah, his Lord.
I need someone like Joseph to treat me like that. To know my sin, and then to have the true desire not to disgrace me publicly.
Do you want people like that in your life?
I want to be like that. Do you want to be like that?
Thank God, Jesus is that.
Let's worship Jesus afresh this Christmas season. Let's start by letting this beautiful, rare and life-changing characteristic grip our minds like a song that we cannot get out of our head. Let's let it grip us to the point, Jesus transforms us to grow in this characteristic.
May each of us not want to disgrace the people in our lives publicly.
Encouraged by no average Joe,