My sleep was troubled that night. I wrestled with my feelings and affections toward Miriam and battled with my anger and hurt. I felt as if I was wandering in a land of shadows, murky and void of dreams, when suddenly, I was startled by a vision of the brightest creature I'd ever seen. I knew immediately it was an angel of the Lord. Surprisingly, he spoke to me such words of reassurance I did not believe them at first. Do not be afraid! The news concerning Miriam was not tragic news but quite the opposite. This was the handiwork of God and by His power He was about to save His people from their sins. I knew that tongues would wag as the months progressed. I knew there would be talk about Miriam; about myself. But there would always be talk. It was the prophet's words that mattered most to me now. "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, God with us." (Is. 7:14; Mt. 1:16-25)
Many years ago, Michael Card composed and recorded a lullaby entitled Joseph's Song which beautifully portrayed the perspective of Joseph as he gazed upon the Christ Child. "How could this be?" it began. Having had two sons of my own and being one of the first people to know they were going to propose to that "special girl", I know how significant this event is in a young man's life. I can imagine the overwhelming feelings that Joseph must have dealt with after Mary was found with child during the course of his betrothal. Betrothal at that time was just as binding as marriage and considered just as legal. To learn that Mary was pregnant was tantamount to discovering she had committed adultery. Yet, Scripture tells us that Joseph learned the truth about Mary's child by Divine revelation and that he went through with the marriage in spite of the stories that must have been circulated around Nazareth. Such is the story of how a simple craftsman came to be the earthly father of the King of the Universe. Beautifully described in Michael Card's song, it was a role that certainly must have both amazed and unnerved him.
Although we do not hear much about Joseph after Jesus' childhood, we do know that his lineage plays a very important role in the life of Jesus. Mt. 1:1-17 is an extensive list of Jesus' family tree, tracing His roots all the way back to Abraham. Perhaps the most significant ancestor of Jesus is one of Jacob's sons, Judah. Like most of his brothers, Judah did not have a stellar track record in the walk of faith. Yet, when his father Jacob was on his deathbed he blessed Judah with the promise that "the scepter will not depart from Judah" (Gen. 49:10). As the nation of Israel grew, the line of Judah emerged as the lineage of kings through the anointing of a young shepherd boy named David. David's descendants reigned from Jerusalem until 586 B. C. When the Babylonian Empire conquered the nation it appeared that David's line had come to an end. But the promises of God, are not to be taken lightly nor for granted. God's timetable never functions as human ones do. When He promised David that a "son" of his would reign forever, He was not referring to an earthly reign, but an eternal one (2 Sam. 7:8-16). Human frailty and death however, preclude immortality. So, how could a descendant of David have an eternal reign? Joseph's line has the legitimate claim, but he is finite like the rest of us. God's solution was that Mary, although from a different branch of David's family tree, is also a descendant of David. Since there are earthly parents, there is a legal claim to the throne. But because there is an Eternal Father, there is therefore an eternal Son, a descendant who reigns forever. Joseph must have have believed that God fulfilled His promises as he followed through with the difficult social implications of a “pregnant fiancée”. But Joseph held fast to his faith, did what God asked of him and remained committed to Mary. His actions force us to examine how we respond to God’s commands: “How do I measure up to Joseph?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div. 12/10/2017
* The name Mary is an English transliteration of the Greek name Marias, which in turn is a transliteration of the Hebrew name Miriam.