Monday, September 28, 2009

9/28- Matthew 1:18-21 Joseph's Dilemna

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

9/29 Matthew 1:18-21
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about [d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

Calvin abridged: Mathew does not speak of the manner or place of Christ’s birth, but the way in which his heavenly origins were made known to Joseph. “Pledged…but before they came together”- seems to indicate that they were engaged, but she was still living under her father’s roof. When a young woman was betrothed to a man she was considered his lawful wife, but if she was convicted of being unchaste the law condemned both of the guilty parties as adulterers (Deut. 22:23,24). 19- “Joseph…was a just man”- This is not referring to Joseph’s gentleness or mercy dealing with Mary, but that he was not willing to overlook the problem-conniving with what he perceived to be her unchastity. Joseph condemned the crime which he supposed his wife to be guilty, but his kindness prevented him from pushing for the utmost rigor of the law- so he wished to depart privately. Mary was silent, and didn’t tell her husband or the public that she was with child by the Holy Spirit. If she had gone public she and he would have been a laughing stock. The Holy Spirit used this story of the announcement to Joseph to make certain in our hearts of the reality of the holiness of the birth of Christ.
20- “While he was considering this”- We see here an example of the timing of the Lord’s help for his people. We can infer that when God appears not to observe our cares and distresses we are still under his eye. He may hide himself and remain silent, but when our patience has been subjected to the trial, he will help us at the wisest time. However slow or late his assistance may appear to be, it is for our advantage that it is delayed. “Joseph son of David do not be afraid to take Mary”- Joseph was afraid of sharing in the criminality of his wife by enduring her adultery. The angel removed his suspicions toward Mary’s guilt, so that he might live with her with a clear conscience. “Son of David” would have brought to mind the prophecies of the messiah’s coming from David’s line. 21- “Jesus” (Hebrew Joshua)- His name tells us His purpose- to save us from our sins. From this we see first that those whom Christ was sent to save are in themselves lost-we all need his grace. Next we see that Christ saves us by delivering us from our sins. This is done in two parts- his atoning work on the cross, and then his pardoning us of our sins.

Thoughts: Joseph was in a spot. He loved Mary, and he also loved God and His law. It is similar to the dilemma of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham was told to sacrifice the only one given to him-it was a heart wrenching situation. But as God provided a way out for Abraham, God provided a way out for Joseph. The ram of sacrifice, supernaturally provided, saved Isaac. The lamb of God, supernaturally provided, saved Mary and Joseph’s relationship. God provides for us- often not before the dilemma happens, but during the height of the problem. We need to understand this too. This passage speaks very powerfully to the idea of adoption of children- as Joseph basically adopted Jesus as his own child. He did so because he was clearly led by God to do it.

Prayer: In our problems, Lord, help us to see your provision for our salvation. Help us to always have hope. Help us to be kind to the helpless as Joseph was kind by taking in Mary and adopting Jesus.

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