God called Mary-Joseph to accept pregnancy with Jesus and begin a husband-wife ministry of parenting the Messiah, thus fulfilling his promise by sending the Messiah through a natural human family. Mary was called to be the Mother of the Messiah and Joseph called to be the earthly father. They would face difficulties due to the unusual pregnancy, but their love for each other and love of God prepared them to understand and accept responsibilities regarding the ministry. This two-part study of the ministry begins with Mary as the leader and Joseph the supporter. Mary’s initial responsibility was to accept pregnancy with Jesus and Joseph’s was to support Mary by accepting her as his wife despite the extraneous pregnancy. Subsequently, the second part of the study will show that Joseph’s support for Mary began his responsibility as overall leader of the husband-wife ministry.
We discuss the call of Mary-Joseph as earthly parents of the Messiah, in continuation of the bible study series on understanding the individual responsibility regarding family leadership. The series is based on bible examples of husband-wife interactions and relationships: including the Shunammite couple, Adam and Eve, Abraham-Sarah and Isaac-Rebekah.
Humanly inexplicable pregnancy of Mary raised dilemma for Joseph that he resolved by compassion: recognizing a person in need and doing what you can to alleviate the need. Further, the interactions illustrate the value of allowing reasonable time to understand events and consider response. Joseph’s compassion for Mary bought him time and provided him opportunity to hear God and understand God’s purpose regarding his marital and parental responsibilities to Mary and the child.
We discuss interactions between Mary and Joseph, the human parents of Jesus; regarding Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus and Joseph’s response to the pregnancy and a Jewish law that appeared relevant. Joseph was engaged to be married to Mary but became aware that Mary was pregnant and he had nothing to do with getting her pregnant. The only human conclusion regarding the development was that Mary committed adultery.
That was a problem, because Jewish law prescribed severe punishment for adulterers. A man and woman that committed adultery were to be put to death. Joseph was expected to refer the matter to the Jewish authority in order to initiate judgment and punishment. However, we will see that Joseph decided he would not seek enforcement of the adultery law against Mary. He would divorce her quietly instead. The word “quietly” is a key part of his decision. It meant he would not expose her to public disgrace in any case.
As he contemplated his intentions, an angel visited him in a dream and explained the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy. Through the dream, Joseph understood God’s purpose regarding his marital and parental responsibilities to Mary and the child. He woke up from the dream, took Mary home as his wife, and began living his responsibility as Mary’s husband and human father of the Son of God. That is, Joseph’s compassion for Mary bought him time that provided him an opportunity to hear God and understand God’s purpose.