His heart sank. The news was unbearable and perplexing. It was scandalous! He longed to be married to his sweetheart but now it seems she had been unfaithful to him. How could she cheat on him? To top it off, she was pregnant. Who was the father? Many names went through his head but he couldn’t imagine her cheating on him with any of them – but it had to be someone. What was he going to do? How could she do this to him? He thought they were in love and then this blindsided him. He knew it was not his child as they had been chaste – or at least he knew he had. He was a good and God-fearing man and now it seemed their future was destroyed by her disloyalty and lust. All he wanted was to be married, raise a family and follow the Lord. Now what? He wanted to do the right thing towards his fiancée, but this hurt deeply.
I’m sure he prayed long and hard concerning his situation. There were several options to take. He could openly condemn her for her actions. You know, hurt her like she hurt him! The community, their families, and especially the church she attended would be all over this shameful act. But that didn’t seem right. He could painfully work through the process of restoration, perhaps through some counseling and prayer. Maybe he could work on forgiveness and love this child as his own? But how? He decided another option would be best. He would quietly break off the engagement, silently slip away, and leave her to be with this other unknown guy to raise their child. This seemed to be the best possible solution (if there could be one) to a heart breaking and deplorable situation.
Then God intervened. He always does. Amidst the crushing pain and anguishing betrayal, he went to sleep and God spoke to him in a dream. And Joseph was told not to leave Mary but take her as his wife. She was pregnant with the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sin (Matthew 1:18-25). This sure wasn’t the plans Joseph had envisioned with his fiancée Mary but he trusted the Lord and knew His plans were best. Joseph’s character was humble and honorable. He thought if he slipped away quietly, Mary would not be killed or shamed out of the community (as this was customary in their culture). But when he heard the truth from an angel during a dream, he had faith in God, obeyed His instructions without argument or hesitation, married Mary and adopted Jesus as his son.
Not wanting her to face the possible slander and shame at home from misunderstanding neighbors, Joseph took Mary with him to Bethlehem for the government ordered census. He was a man of integrity who followed the Lord regardless of the humiliation he may have faced from the community. He would prove to be a man who obeyed God time and time again as God instructed him in other dreams after Jesus’ birth. He led his family to Egypt to escape King Herod’s wrath (Matthew 2:13-18) and back to Israel after Herod’s death (Matthew 2:19-23). Joseph and Mary would go on to have at least four other sons and at least two daughters. But like firstborn kids do, Jesus changed their world – the entire world. Joseph, an ordinary carpenter had an extraordinary role in God’s redemptive plan to save the world. Lord, may I trust, obey, and have faith and integrity like that of Joseph.