Have you ever decided to do something that was wrong, incorrect or inappropriate knowing that actually it was the right thing to do in the circumstance?
That’s exactly what Joseph did and he was probably a little confused also.
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: 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. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1 v 18-19)
Joseph was faithful to the Law of Moses and yet … think about these words for a moment.
The Law said, “If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death” (Deuteronomy 22: 23-24)
He decided to break the Law of Moses and divorce Mary quietly. This was wrong. Every Jew would say so. Whatever interpretation of the Law the rabbi’s would hold to at the time of Joseph, one thing was sure, judgment was needed.
Other translations use the word ‘Just’ to describe Joseph’s faithfulness to the Law. But justice for Joseph was more than keeping the Law of Moses.
In one of the four Suffering Servant songs in Isaiah 42 the words are, “A bruised reed he will not break and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.”
In the song, justice is not retributive or keeping the rules but it is compassion for the weak and the exhausted, the downtrodden and the outcast.
His decision to divorce her quietly reveals that His righteousness according the Law of Moses (the rules) would not become a stumbling block to what was the right action.
This ‘justice’ embedded in Joseph’s mind was instrumental to the miracle.
How do we develop such justice?
Joseph made decisions based upon grace. The divorce was the gracious door out of this terrible situation. Grace is the safest place to be. We need more grace.
Joseph’s wisdom knew what to fight for. What he could not understand or accept (miracle conception or a man involved?) he was prepared to dismiss rather than contend. We need more wisdom.
Let’s make sure our rules for life don’t trap us from doing the right thing.