Costly News

Have you ever received news — good or bad — that was going to cost you something? The news of Mary’s pregnancy was costly news for Joseph. He was either going to lose the girl he loved (Mary) or he was going to lose his reputation.

Read Matthew 1:18-19. This passage in Matthew reveals something to us about Joseph. “Joseph…was faithful to the law”.  Which means that he lived in accordance with God’s compelling standards as outlined in the Mosaic law.

Because we live on the other side of Christmas, we want to rush to the end of the story where everything turns out okay. But if you do that, you miss the whole point of what Joseph is learning. You miss out on how God is already beginning to redefine what it means to be righteous.

The Torah has some clear instructions about what to do to somebody in Mary’s condition (Deuteronomy 22:21, 23-24). Joseph’s reputation was on the line. His fellow law abiding associates would have told him this sin must be publicly exposed and punished. But Joseph couldn’t bring himself to do this. So he decides to divorce her quietly. That way he could minimize her suffering but maintain his status as a righteous man.

Read Matthew 1:20-23. Why did God make Joseph wait till after he had to think and struggle with all this stuff? Is it possible that anxiety removal is not God’s number one goal for Joseph — or maybe for you and me? If you’re confused or uncertain about something, maybe it’s not because you’ve done something wrong. Maybe you’re about to grow. Maybe what you need to do is wait on God and trust God’s going to do something in your life you don’t even know about yet!

When we consider our circumstances only at face value, we risk “considering” God right out of our circumstance.

 

But an angel had spoken. Could it have been the same angel that gave God’s law to Moses (Galatians 3:19)?. Could this angel be revealing a new way truly living a righteous life?

Read Matthew 1:24–25. Embracing what God was doing through Mary and her expected child was going to be very costly for Joseph. It was a cost he would pay for the rest of his life.

Years later, when Jesus was an adult and his public ministry had began, he was teaching in the synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown — Joseph’s too. See Mark 6:1-3. This passage may reflect that decades late Joseph’s reputation still has not recovered from his marriage.

Since that time, millions of people have made sacrifices for the sake of this one called Jesus.

Many have given up status, possessions, convenience, freedoms, even their lives.

When Joseph looked into people’s eyes after he obeyed God, things were never the same. They never looked at him with the same respect and adoration. But when he looked into the eyes of that child, Jesus, he knew he had done the right thing.

I think of how Jesus, as he was growing up, must have admired his dad’s example of courage, sacrifice and true righteousness.

God still calls people to be willing to die to reputation, status and comfort for the sake of godly love.

 

When Joseph made the decision to wed Mary, he thought it was the end of his being known as a righteous man. He did not know fully that the child he would adopt would bring to the human race a new kind of righteousness.  A righteousness not based on the law, but on love for God and your neighbor. A righteousness our world desperately needs.

What has the Christ-initiated righteousness cost you?