Michael K. McMahan
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah happened: His mother Mary had promised to be married to Joseph, but before they met, she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Because her husband Joseph was faithful to the law and did not want to expose him to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce quietly. But after reflecting on this, an angel of the Lord appeared to her in a dream and said to her: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to your home for your wife, for what is conceived in her comes from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. “(Matthew 1: 18 – 21)
You are a young man of a few years out of college. As you grew up in the construction industry, you prefer to work with your hands rather than sitting at a desk. You’ve built a small business by outsourcing carpentry work to large housebuilding companies. You get up early. You work hard. Everything is fine, but one thing is missing.
And there she is. Eight years younger, but very mature, an administrative assistant in one of the big companies that contracts for your services, smart and pretty, and kind. You fall in love with her the first time you see her.
In a very short time, you discreetly slip a ring on the ring finger of his left hand. Surprised, tears come to her eyes. You say, “Will you marry me? She nods through those tears. You kiss and you both say, “I love you” and you laugh.
Two weeks later, there’s a knock on your door. You hear his voice. You straighten your shirt and regret not brushing your teeth after breakfast. You open the door and she sobs.
” What’s wrong ? You say to yourself as you help him enter your small apartment. You place two straight chairs facing each other and sit in front of her, holding both her hands.
She sobs, but soon wipes her eyes and says, “Not long before we met,” she sobs, takes a deep breath and says, “I made a mistake. I am pregnant.”
Emotions come over you from all sides: surprise, confusion, anger, disappointment and, as you see her trembling in front of you, compassion and love. You get up and pull her to her feet. You give her a hug as she places her face on your shoulder and sobs softly.
You know four things. This is the person you want to be with for the rest of your life. She is hurt. You like it. It will be her baby and you will love the child as you love him.
In a different culture two thousand years ago a successful young man who was faithful to the law and to Yahweh, and was known to be a good and kind person, was chosen by a family who loved their daughter to be their husband. He was a carpenter, or more likely a homebuilder like my friends Doug McSpadden and Bob Rouse.
Soon he learned that the young woman he was to marry was pregnant. Because he had compassion for her and respect for her family, he decided that he would quietly withdraw from the marriage arrangement. But something happened.
Matthew expresses it as a visit from an angel in a dream. It was a dramatic event for Joseph, a revelation. This told him that Mary was a pious young woman. She was not only worthy of his respect and honor, the child in her would be special.
Thus, he is one of the great figures of the Bible who accepted the responsibility of protecting and loving Mary, the mother of Jesus, and of taking care of the son of Mary as his earthly father.
So little is known about him. It is likely that he died at a relatively young age. Otherwise, Jesus might have started his ministry earlier than when he was 30 years old. The later date may indicate that Jesus needed to provide for his mother and family because of Joseph’s death. We do not know. But we do know that Joseph was a faithful husband and father. We know he was a righteous and deeply good man, a man whom I believe was chosen by God for a role that few men on earth at that time could have fulfilled.
At this time of year, in particular, we should be thankful for the life of Joseph, the husband of Mary, the earthly father of Jesus, the protector of both. In our thanksgiving, we should be grateful to all fathers, regardless of their circumstances, who respect and honor the mothers of their children and provide for their families as Joseph did for his.
As you think of baby Jesus and his mother Mary, remember the deeply good man who loved and cared for them, and pray a special prayer that fathers everywhere will follow his example.
Michael K. McMahan is a resident of Gastonia and a regular contributor to The Gaston Gazette.