My attention was turned to Matthew 1:19. “He (Joseph) was minded to put her (Mary) away privately”. What a verse of compassion! Imagine it. Here is this young man whose life had been wholeheartedly surrendered to the will of God. I’m sure he and Mary were a good-looking young couple, but it must have been Mary’s heart, bent towards Heaven, that attracted him to her so strongly. How it must have surprised and shocked Joseph to learn of Mary’s pregnancy!
I wonder what Joseph did when he first found out about the pregnancy. Did he immediately fall to his knees and cry out to God, “Why”? Did he run to his carpenter’s shop, lock the door, and hammer away at the latest piece of furniture he was making? Did he rehearse in his mind a thousand times how he would tell his parents? What about the religious rulers? What would they say about this pregnancy? I mean, the Pharisees and Sadducees had something to say about everything, didn’t they?
At what point did Joseph decide to divorce Mary privately? Was it when he saw Mary’s tears streaming down her face, or didn’t Mary cry when she told him? Although she KNEW this Baby was placed inside her womb by the Holy Spirit, did she feel apprehensive about telling Joseph? Was she so filled with the Holy Spirit that she had no fear in telling him? I tend to think so. Imagine her surprise when he didn’t believe all that she told him! His reaction must have shaken Mary to the core. I know I would have been shaken. What did Joseph’s parents say (if he told them) about his plans to marry Mary? Did they believe their young son would be entrusted to be the Messiah’s paternal guardian on earth? Did they try to talk him out of the marriage? These questions still linger in my mind.
But the compassion of Joseph in deciding to divorce her privately! Now, I know there are many people who would jump on this and say that there is NEVER a reason for divorce (sorry…I disagree). But you can imagine how Joseph would have been elevated in the opinions of others if he had divorced her publicly? A public stoning would have announced to all their neighbors and fellow Temple-goers that SHE was at fault. But no. He chose to divorce her privately.
Love covers a multitude of sins. Oh, how I want a “Joseph’s” heart! I want my life to be marked by the sweetness and compassion of a life closely walked with the Savior. I can’t remember a time when I knew so many hurting people. It’s time for us, as the church, to carry our lighted candle to the broken-hearted, embracing each one with the love of Jesus. We are the only physical representation of Him on earth. Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.