Wednesday, December 10, 2008

public image

Matthew 1:19. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
I am no Biblical scholar. We already know this.
But I cannot help but wonder what was running through the mind of Joseph, fully human, fully susceptible to temptation, fully capable to give into it. I could not help but wonder if Joseph really intended to 'escape' this situation through divorce. After all, people know him to be a righteous man! Would it not appear that Mary, severed from a commitment to Joseph, perhaps slept with another man? Could it be possible that Joseph would have rather the public condemn Mary alone, and not Mary and him? Look at it - they're not married and she's pregnant. So, to the public eye, either he and Mary screwed up, or just Mary screwed up.

Matthew 24:27-28. Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean! In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Too often we fall for the cop-out. To take the route of washing our tombs to hold to an image of righteousness but not knowing or experiencing it because of the dead bones within us. And yet we cannot link this directly to Joseph because:

Although Joseph's reasoning, 'he didn't want to expose her,' sounds like, 'Yes, I care for you, but I care for me even more,' we have to give him credit for caring for her in the first place. And even more credit because we know that he does not divorce her, that he remains by her side. Joseph stepped into the realm of faith - where he had to obey the command of the LORD, regardless of what he felt in the natural, regardless of his internal desires. They were surrendered for a holy cause. He chose righteousness before God versus righteousness before man - despite the repercussions of communal disgrace.

He proved a faithfulness, not just to God, but to his beloved.

Ephesians 5:25-29. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy... Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.

And this very well saved the emotional weight the young Mary could have experienced having to bear and rear a child on her own. It's an honest righteousness that Joseph has, that even though the opportunity to exit was before him, he chose obedience. It's proof of character, of life.

Could we say the same of our own lives? That despite our reputations, we can dismiss it in order to help bring a Savior to the world?

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