I heard a pastor say last week, “Joseph was the first person to receive Christ by faith.” He made the point that Mary received a person-to-person visit from the Angel Gabriel, and then she had a baby human placed in her body. She knew, but the faith she had was different than that of Joseph. He had to completely trust in the Word of the Angel of the Lord that this really WAS the Christ child that Isaiah had prophesied would come. He was the first man of faith in the physical, incarnate, realized Christ.
Matthew says Joseph was a “just” man. This meant that he loved God’s law, which would have demanded that this child-mother with child, be punished. To excuse her sexual sin would be to exercise fleshly mercy. Joseph knew he did not have that authority. God has said that mercy cannot be without justice. And Joseph loved justice. He loved God’s law. But he also loved Mary. He refused to ignore the just law of God in favor of the love of a human. He was a just man. So the conundrum was before him, and he embraced it.
“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”-Matthew 1:19
He would preserve justice and preserve Mary. Joseph shows us grace that has a spine. But God preserves Joseph. He gives him a faith through the Word he brings him — that will be the first-ever faith in the incarnate Christ as greater than The Law. Christ is the fulfillment of The Law that would have demanded Mary’s punishment and Joseph’s action. The Law was fulfilled in Christ. He said it himself (Matthew 5:17). Joseph was the first to believe this. He was saved by faith, and so in a sense, Mary was saved by Joseph’s faith. In this faith Christ fulfilled and satisfied the Law, which is exactly what he was coming to do.
He was just a construction worker, who raised a kid he didn’t actually father biologically. I like this guy. I can learn a lot from him.
I wanna be the kind of husband and daddy Joseph was.