“Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth …  And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.” (Luke 2:1, 3-5)

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We’re concluding our imaginary interview with Joseph, the husband of Mary. As shared in our previous release, the team at ETL believes God is pleased when we mull over Scripture to the point where we wonder what the people we’re reading about experienced. If we forget they were real and normal people, we end up missing some excellent takeaways.

When we do try and imagine what things may have been like for people we find in the biblical narrative, we must be careful to not make thoughts which are not stated in God’s Word our theology. We can wonder; we can even have opinions, but we should not consider or present them in parallel to the biblical record.

Our last imagined conversation with Joseph brought us to the point where he had been visited by God’s angel and instructed to not be afraid of taking Mary as his wife. The Child she was carrying was not conceived of man, but through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Joseph came to know his betrothed, Mary, was the virgin foretold in Scripture to whom the Messiah would be born!

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Joseph, the Holy Scriptures reveal you woke from your sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded you, taking Mary as your wife but keeping her a virgin until she gave birth to God’s Son. Was it difficult for you and Mary to begin married life when people believed she conceived through sin?  

First of all, you must understand what great shock, fear, and wonder gripped me at the angel’s revelation. Who could have imagined Jehovah God would use such ordinary people as us to fulfill His glorious promise? My heart pounded in both shame and bursting joy. Not only was Mary not the transgressor I assumed her to be, but she was the young woman God had chosen to bring the Promised One to His people; to the world! My thoughts flew to what Mary must have endured as a result of her trust in God’s plans. My respect for her surpassed any I had known. I wanted to race to her father’s home and request to meet with her, sharing what God revealed to me, weep joyfully together, and worship the Messiah whose temporary abode was within her.

Did you have such a visit? And if so, how did Mary respond?

Yes, and she was overjoyed to learn how God sent His messenger to me, revealing the marvelous truth. We shed tears of every kind together and worshipped Jehovah. Her father and mother were relieved when I took measures to move Mary into my own dwelling as my wife. They were bitterly angry at her, not knowing the truth.

There is nothing within the Scriptures to indicate Mary tried to explain to others what happened. So she kept silent as to that?

Mary had shared only with her cousin, Elizabeth, and Zechariah. I wondered at times whether she should have told her parents about the visit from the angel and his pronouncement of her conceiving God the Son. Yet Mary was wise for one so young, having determined to place all her trust in the God who works miracles. She believed the God who could make a virgin conceive was able to reveal the truth to those He saw fit, in His timing. I took this to heart for myself, as well.

So here the two of you were, clearly in God’s merciful plan. But I’m guessing life for you in Nazareth was difficult?

In many ways, it was tremendously easy. I can’t describe how full our hearts were with the knowledge that Jehovah had visited His people and the time for the long-awaited Messiah had come! This is what our people had longed for throughout multiple generations. A part of us wanted to tell everyone what God was doing, but we knew we would never be believed.

So we felt close to God and each other, but very distant from our friends, families, neighbors, and fellow Israelites. We were despised. My business suffered. We became destitute, really. That part of it was very difficult, but the worst of it was the enmity of our families. They were ashamed of us. The women of the village were ruthless towards Mary. I could handle that for myself from the men, but it tore me apart to see Mary’s suffering on a daily basis.

Being a Jew, knowing the Scriptures, and no doubt having been keenly reacquainted with the prophesies of the coming Messiah, did you ever have doubts? You lived in Nazareth, but likely knew the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem?

Despite God’s wondrous revelations to us, I sometimes found my soul in turmoil. Was my dream really a visitation from God’s messenger, or was it just a dream? The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, yet Mary and I didn’t live there nor did we have reason to journey there. Every week the unborn child was growing larger and the time for Mary to give birth was drawing closer. This created within me a quiet tension for which I felt guilty.

Countering those doubts, a number of times I caught glimpses of Mary when she didn’t realize I was near. In unguarded moments, she uttered such glorious words of praise, joy, and awe of God and His promises. She expressed amazement of her unworthiness to carry His Holy Son. Seeing these intimacies between Mary and Jehovah drove me to shame and repentance, yet I sensed God’s unceasing mercy and love towards me.

I carefully saved scraps of wood from my carpentry work, fashioning a cradle for Mary to place Jesus in after His birth. I wanted to surprise her. Every time I worked on it, I prayed, “Lord God, where will Your Son be born, and where will this cradle hold Him?”

We didn’t talk about it, but I began to sense in my heart Mary knew of my struggles and had no doubt we would find ourselves on the road to Bethlehem by God’s clear providence.

Wow… And then the decree came forth from Caesar Augustus!

Yes, it did. We were nearly starving to death in Nazareth and now were mandated to go and register in Bethlehem, our ancestral city. I decided to pack our scant belongings and carpentry tools in my work cart to take with us. I dared not leave Mary home alone, nor my work tools. The cart was designed for me to pull, and Mary would be able to walk or lay down and rest in it as we journeyed. She was very close to delivery, yet we knew God would bring Mary safely to Bethlehem! And, I thought, perhaps we could find work and a home there.

In our culture, it’s pretty much believed you had a donkey for Mary to ride…

To Bethlehem, from Nazareth? And Mary full with child? What a thought! No. If nothing else, God gave Mary a most practical husband in me. We could hardly manage enough food for our own mouths, much less that of a donkey! And even if one had the means, what man would put his heavily pregnant wife on the small frame of such a beast for a ninety mile trip with difficult terrain?!

 And the cradle?

Ahh, that. It became most painful for me. We desperately needed additional supplies for the long trip to Bethlehem and had no means to purchase them. A man who cruelly mocked me about Mary’s “illegitimate child” had noticed the cradle in my shop and offered to buy it for his own wife. In agony, I sold it to him.

The Scriptures reveal you made it to Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable, and it is evident God always planned to cradle His newborn Son in a manger. Then the wide-eyed shepherds who witnessed the heavenly realm announcing the birth of the Messiah found you! That must have blown your minds, as we are prone to say in this culture!

It did, and one day I believe our loving God will enable you to hear everything about that challenging, holy, and glorious night, my friend! 

 Jehovah is good.

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This concludes our imaginary interview with Joseph, the carpenter-husband to Mary and legal father of God the Son. Thank you for joining us, and may you delve deep into the recorded truths of God’s Word, wonder at His intimacies with mortals, and know and honor His Son, Jesus Christ. You are loved and Jehovah is good!

Luke 2:6-20

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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