Picture the conversation between Mary and Joseph. Mary says, “Joseph, we need to talk.” And Joseph might then be thinking, “Now what have I done?!” When she says, “I’m pregnant,” he knows that in fact, he hasn’t done anything, and in this case, that is the problem. Because if he isn’t the father, then who is? If he isn’t the father, then Mary must have been cheating on him. If you were Joseph, what would be going through your head? If you were Mary, what would be going through your head? It’s pretty clear to Joseph that he isn’t the father of this baby. He’s done everything the proper way: they’ve done the official engagement or betrothal, which is not a social announcement and party like our engagements are today. Today, we can break off an engagement without any legal ramifications. Yes, it is difficult to end an engagement, there is pain involved, and it takes a great deal of emotional discernment, energy and courage in order to do so. But in Joseph’s day, engagement was a legally binding contract. The period of betrothal lasted about a year, during which time the couple continued to live with their respective families. There was no sexual consummation of the marriage until the public celebration of the wedding. After the public event, the wife went to live with the husband.
Joseph is a righteous man–a good man, trustworthy, upright, treats people well, follows the laws and customs. He has done everything properly in relation to Mary. So, Mary’s announcement that she was pregnant would have come as quite a shock to him, I’m sure. I can only imagine how devastated he must have been.
- Matthew 1:18 - 25
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