A Story of Mary and Joseph

(Following is a story of what might have happened in the life of a young couple whose future was dramatically changed by the visit of an angel)

#5 Angel visit (1)The world is full of great love stories such as Romeo and Juliet, Love Story and many more.  Stories in which boy meets girl, adversity comes and is overcome, and the couple lives happily ever after.

Mary and Joseph could be such a couple. They were the perfect couple.  When you saw them walking down the street, they would naturally get your attention.

Joseph was a rugged carpenter. His dark complexion and broad shoulders gave him a look of toughness. His hands were rough from hours of working with wood in his carpenter shop. His dark hair and eyes gave him a look of fierceness when you first saw him. As you got to know him though, you began to see in those very eyes a man of tenderness and quietness.

While he could make a piece of wood do exactly what he wanted, life was different. Under the strong muscles lay a soft and tender heart.  He knew wood, but he knew people better and this knowledge of people led him to sensitivity to God.  He had a keen awareness of the letter of the law. But beyond the letter of the Law was the purpose of the Law which showed God’s mercy and compassion.

He had a cunning awareness of society’s expectations and demands. He was a man of justice. Those that lived reckless lives needed to be held accountable for their actions.

He was also a man of mercy. He was well aware of the fact that there were those who put the laws and opinions of man above the intention of God. When he looked at a criminal, he didn’t just see the crime but the person behind the crime.  He walked a mile in his brother’s shoes.

Mary was tender and kind woman. Actually, she was just a girl, but she had wisdom beyond her years that was evident in a strong spirit. Women weren’t educated like they are today, but her wisdom far surpassed the academic knowledge of men of her day.

She enjoyed life. She could laugh at a good joke. Cry with a hurting friend. Comfort a child. She was industrious. Even though her frame was small, it contained a strong resolve to do what needed to get done.

She was a people person. She not only offered sympathy to the hurting, she felt their pain. Perhaps it was because of her own poverty, she always seemed to reach out to the down and outers of society.

Mary also believed in God. Her life revolved around the temple worship. She saw the empty religion of the Pharisees and earnestly desired the coming Messiah.

She was a busy woman, yet never so busy that she couldn’t help Joseph with a project or listen to a neighbor, or play with the neighborhood children.

How they met is a mystery. We have no record of their families, or their past.  Both of them had royalty in their blood, being descendants of David. But, that was far removed from where they found themselves now.

The hamlet they lived in was a little village of perhaps 200 called Nazareth. Nazareth got no respect. The rampant violence and immorality, along with its size gave Nazareth a poor reputation. Along with that, the Roman soldiers stationed outside of town usually had “their way” with many of the village girls. No one could be trusted in Nazareth. Nothing good ever came from this dusty little town.

Mary and Joseph were a bright light in this dark part of the world. Both were God-fearing quiet types who followed God’s law as best they could. Soon they would be married officially. For now, during this time of betrothal they would remain as faithful as any husband and wife might be before God…That is until the visit.

He found out about it on one of their walks through the countryside. He still remembers the pain in his stomach as she told him her story. He looked into those eyes of love and saw the girl of his dreams, the one who meant more to him than the world itself, except of course for

God. One thing was for sure. The Law was on his side. No one would fault him for prosecution to the fullest extent of God’s Law. From the time of Moses it had been in writing. Adultery was wrong and punishable by stoning.

But what if her story was true?  Even if it were true, what would his family say? To continue on with the marriage would be admitting that the child was his. That made him as guilty before God and man as she was.  She said she was leaving soon, to visit her cousin Elizabeth. When she got back, he would have an answer.

She’d never seen a real angel before. She’d heard stories of them from the times of the prophets. But it had been almost 400 years since anyone had heard any direct message from God. The angel said his name was Gabriel. He called her ‘the favored one of God.’ Even in the pain she felt now, she smiled at that phrase. Imagine, her, Mary, a chosen one of God! She looked at the poverty that surrounded her. It was hardly the surroundings of someone chosen of God.

Then the angel told her she was going to have a baby. She was only 14 years old! Other girls her age had gotten pregnant. Some were stoned to death as adulterers. Others were married in arranged marriages which little had to do with love, and much had to do with the dowry available.

Joseph was such a kind and loving man. She would be honored to have his baby. Then she heard the angel again say she was going to have a baby…now.  But how? She was a virgin. She had never, nor would ever be with a man outside of marriage. It was against God’s law. It was against the way she was brought up. People would never understand.  How would she tell Joseph? What would be his reaction?

The angel told Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, was also with child. Suddenly she realized a need to talk to Elizabeth. She would go at once. But first, she had to tell Joseph. That’s why they were on this walk.  They’d often taken walks before to discuss the wedding, to pray, to discuss the prophets, to worship together. No walk would be harder than this one.

She swallowed hard. She felt like all of her insides would spill onto the ground if she opened her mouth. What would he say? Maybe she shouldn’t tell him until after. Then she heard her voice:

“Joseph, I’m pregnant. I saw an angel Joseph. He told me that it was from God. I’ve never been with another man Joseph. I love you, you only. Please believe me.”

She saw the hurt. He was quiet. She’d never known Joseph to speak quickly or rashly. They walked on in silence for what seemed like miles. Finally, it was time for her to go. She looked on more time into his eyes of love mixed with hurt.

“I love you Joseph. I’ll be back in three months. Will you wait for me?”

He bit his bottom lip, and nodded slightly. Then, she was gone.  That night, on his bed he prayed and cried. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen. Joseph struggled with his options.

Mary was pregnant. He knew it was not his child. Was it the child of God? Who would believe a story like that? Over the weeks that followed, he mulled over his options. He could legally take the dowry and have Mary stoned. He could just take the dowry and let her go quietly. He could go ahead with the marriage and deal later with the ridicule and possible punishment he would receive for not prosecuting this woman caught in sin. Should he exercise his legal rights and ignore her pain, or should he think of her feelings and go against the law?

After days of struggling, he finally came to his decision. When she returned from Elizabeth’s he would divorce her quietly. No dowry, no public disgrace, only a release from the marriage contract. It didn’t feel right, but it would have to be that way. In spite of his love for Mary, he would have to do what he felt was right in the eyes of God.

Then, suddenly, he saw it. It stood right before him in bright white robes. Light seems to emanate from its entire being. It was an angel!

“Joseph! Don’t be afraid. Mary’s story is true. The child within her is from the Holy Spirit of God. She will give birth to a son that you will name Jesus.”

So, her story was true. He lay back on his bed. His faith restored. He couldn’t wait for Mary to get back from Elizabeth’s.

 

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