“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. 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.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:” Matthew 1: 20-22 (NIV)
Today’s symbol is of a carpenters hammer, to represent Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph. Initially when Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, he decided that he would divorce her quietly. At the time, it was the custom that women got stoned for being unfaithful to their husband/betrothed husband. We get the impression that Joseph did not want this to happen to Mary. Joseph would have felt betrayed by Mary, shamed and inadequate. If he did not divorce her, then others would have presumed that he got Mary pregnant, and this would have tarnished his reputation as well. Roman and Jewish law at the time stated that a spouse must divorce his wife if she is unfaithful, or he could be accused of exploiting his wife as a prostitute.
Joseph trusted and obeyed God. As soon as he realized that the baby was from God, he put his own honor and reputation aside, in order to honor God first and foremost. Joseph and Mary began their marriage, and probably remained, as object of shame, to others in a society that valued honor. They chose to embrace that shame, so that they could carry out God’s will and call on their lives.
Joseph’s obedience to God cost him the right to value his own reputation. Today, think about whether you put your own reputation and honor before honoring God.
Read more in Matthew 1:19-25.
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