What if Joseph had rejected Mary? There’s a whole lot of consequences to that actually. Big consequences. There’ll be no salvation for mankind for instance. But we seem to be getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s backtrack a little.
Joseph has to be the nicest guy we never met. Wonderful fellow. Here was a man whose fiancée “apparently” cheated on him, yet was willing to pay for her to go out of town and have the baby so she wouldn’t be disgraced. Safely out of town he could then break off the engagement quietly. But the concept of engagement in ancient Jewish society is quite different from what obtains today. The term was “betrothal.” The only way to describe “betrothal” is, a “rather serious engagement.” It’s called “Shiddukin” in Hebrew. It’s the first stage in marriage and lasts for a year before the wedding night. And it was legally binding, so binding in fact that you require divorce to nullify it. The Law of Moses refers to a betrothed woman as wife. If one party dies the other is regarded as widow or widower. The concept of shiddukin is so serious that rape of a betrothed virgin carried death penalty. It was likened to murder under the Law. (Deuteronomy 22:23-27) Under shiddukin, the woman remained with her parents even though she’s referred to as wife. The marriage is not consummated.
We all know the story of immaculate conception. Mary was minding her business one morning when a special guest of honour showed up. Angel Gabe (officially known as Angel Gabriel) came with a proposal from God. There are only two angels mentioned by name in scriptures by the way – Gabriel and Michael. Good angels that is. And so when Angel Gabe showed up it meant serious matter. Gabriel is so powerful that when Zecharias – the father of John the Baptist queried the feasibility of his prophecy, he struck him dumb, no secondary consultation needed. “I am Gabriel; I stand and minister in the very presence of God,” he had said. That was heavy pulling of rank.
Now, Gabriel had been involved in earth matters for quite some time. He was the one relating to Daniel. That was something like 500 years before appearing to Mary. So he’s been around. Apparently he has a terrifying presence though he looks like a man. (Daniel 9:21) The three mentioned humans he appeared to were terrified. Daniel was frightened (Daniel 8:17); Zecharias was frightened (Luke 1:13); Mary was frightened. Which was why he generally started his conversations telling people not to be afraid. Mary was afraid but equally intrigued. Gabriel had greeted her funny – “Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out! God be with you.” (Luke 1:28 MSG) Well, Mary was still trying to figure the gentleman out when he dropped a bombshell – “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.” (Luke 1:31) Mary was perplexed. “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” Long story short, Mary became a pregnant virgin. The pregnancy took place immediately after – as soon as she consented to the immersive experience of a procedure called “overshadowing.” (Luke 1:35, 38) It’s why the Bible reports, “she was found to be with child.” (Matthew 1:18) But how do you explain all this to your fiancé if you’re Mary, or to any man for that matter?
The Bible says Joseph was “chagrined” when he got to know about the pregnancy, meaning he was frustrated, annoyed and disappointed. (Matthew 1:19 MSG) Frustrated because he genuinely loved Mary, but she seemed to be holding on to the wonderful “lie” of pregnancy without sex. He wanted things to work out. Annoyed because the whole thing sounded bunkum. Disappointed because Mary wasn’t the type of girl who messed around. And he “discovered she was pregnant.” (Matthew 1:18-19 MSG) Which means Mary didn’t tell him about the encounter with Gabriel until confronted with the pregnancy. But how was she going to explain? It would take an angel (probably Gabriel again) appearing to Joseph in a dream to confirm to him Mary’s story. By that point he was already mulling over how to resolve the issue without drama. In fact the only person who seemed to believe Mary’s story outrightly was Mary’s aunt, Aunt Lizzy. Barren Lizzy was the mother of John the Baptist and she had her own impossible story. She had conceived long after menopause had set in. By the time Mary got pregnant, Aunty Elizabeth was six months into her pregnancy. Seemed Angel Gabriel specialized in impossible situations – “For with God nothing is or ever shall be impossible” he had said. (Luke 1:37 AMP) We must all bear that in mind – With God nothing is or ever shall be impossible. And so on record Joseph became the father of Jesus. Nobody knew otherwise. (Luke 3:23)
What would have happened if Joseph had rejected Mary? The straightforward answer is there would have been complications on many levels. The ancestry of Jesus was traced through two lineages – Mary’s lineage and Joseph’s lineage, and for very particular reasons. Dr. Luke traced the lineage of Jesus through Mary to Adam. Matthew traced his lineage through Joseph to David and Abraham. The reason his genealogy is traced to Adam is to establish his humanity and so he could take on the political title of Last Adam. The first Adam was a life-receiving being whereas the Last Adam was a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45) The first Adam made us earthy. The Last Adam made us heavenly. (1 Corinthians 15:49) And so the lineage of Jesus through Mary was pointing to salvation. The whole idea was to establish Jesus as Saviour of the world.
The lineage of Jesus through Joseph was however another thing entirely. That lineage would not exist if Joseph hadn’t taken up the role of father to Jesus. As noted, the lineage was traced back to David and Abraham. Why David? Why Abraham? God had made a promise to David that he would give him a dynasty of kings, that his house and his kingdom would be forever. (2 Samuel 7:8-16) Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise since he is king forever. (Psalm 146:10) David could not have known how God would bring that promise to pass. He was probably thinking in the natural, which would have sounded incredulous. Yet David believed God implicitly and absolutely. Didn’t doubt God one bit. He knew God has integrity. You see, it’s not ours to worry about how God would bring his promise to pass, however implausible it sounds. Gabriel had said of Jesus, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his kingdom will never end!” (Luke 1:32-33) Therefore, his ancestry through Joseph established Jesus as king of the Jews. This was the point in contention at his crucifixion. The inscription on the cross read “King of the Jews.” The Pharisees wanted it changed to, “This man said, I am king of the Jews.” (John 19:21) But Pilate stood by what he wrote. The lineage of Jesus up to David thus established his lordship over Israel, but why trace it to Abraham as well?
God made this promise to Abraham when he met him: “I will make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous; you’ll be a blessing… All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3) The fulfillment of that promise to Abraham came through Jesus. Through Jesus all the families of the Earth are blessed with the blessing of Abraham, not just Jews. “Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles (non-Jews) with the same blessing he promised to Abraham…” (Galatians 3:14) Without the ancestry through Joseph, non-Jews will not have access to the blessings of Abraham. “All praise to God, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we’re united with Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)
It is with the benefit of hindsight that we get to see the immensity of the consequences of simple decisions. The simple moral in the immaculate conception saga is, simply obey God!
In the natural however, if Joseph had put Mary away it would have been hushed up. Joseph was a complete gentleman. It’s doubtful however if anyone would have believed Mary. A pregnant virgin is phantasmagoric. There has been only one case so far in human history. Christ was indeed unique.
If you’ll like to give your life to Jesus, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me Father. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
To download my free articles – Correspondence With Unbelief and Conversation With Unbelief, go to http://myilluminare.com/correspondence-with-an-atheist/ and http://myilluminare.com/conversation-with-an-atheist/ respectively
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