Skip to content

19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.20But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Joseph was a God-fearing carpenter who desired to establish a family. He admired the beautiful godly Virgin Mary, and obtained the agreement of her family to marry her; thus both families became connected through betrothal.
Joseph was a righteous man and Mary was a blessed virtuous woman. This is a call to all the believers "not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers." Those who are spiritual must choose to marry those who are so in order that God may sanctify their relation and bless them in it.
We may also learn that it is good for us to enter into the married state with deliberation and not in haste – to preface the marriage with an engagement. It is better to take time to consider before marriage than to find time to repent afterwards.
Suddenly, Joseph perceived Mary, his betrothed woman to be with child before they came together. He watched her carefully, and when he made sure that she was pregnant, a struggle broke out in his breast between rage and love. He became a prey of bitter suspicions. And when her pregnancy became uncovered, Joseph began to think of his lawful duties towards her. A godly Jew shall not marry a "harlot." He had to either expose her shame in public, which at that time of the Roman empire, would bring contempt but not death; or give her a certificate of divorce in private to enable her to marry the man she loved.
Never was any daughter of Eve so dignified as the Virgin Mary, and yet in danger of falling under the imputation of one of the worse crimes; yet we do not find that she tormented herself about it; but, being conscious of her own innocence, she remained at peace and committed her cause to "him that judges righteously".
Those who take care to keep a good conscience may cheerfully trust God with the keeping of their good names and have reason to hope that he will clear up not only their integrity but also their honor.
Joseph truly loved Mary, and prepared to separate from her privately, to make the blame fall upon him not upon her. This reflects his honesty and uprightness. We may well imagine how greatly troubled and disappointed he was to find the one he had trusted and valued could come under the suspicion of such a heinous crime. “Is this Mary?” he began to think. “How can we be deceived by those we think best of? How can we be disappointed in what we expect most from!” He is afraid to believe so ill a thing of one whom he believed to be so good a woman and yet the matter, as it is too bad to be excused, is also too plain to be denied. A violent struggle raged in Joseph’s heart. On one hand he fought bitter jealousy, which is as cruel as the grave, and on the other, he battled the deep affection which he had for Mary! He avoided acting to either extreme. He was not willing to make her a public example, though according to the law, he could have done so: "If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones" (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). But he was not willing to take the advantage of the law and punish her, for the knowledge of her guilt was uncertain. How different was the spirit, which Joseph displayed from that of Judah, who in a similar case hastily passed severe judgment "Bring her forth and let her be burnt!" (Genesis 38:24). How good it is to think on things, as Joseph did here! Were there more deliberation in our censures and judgments, there would be more mercy and moderation in them.
Bringing her to punishment is expressed in the Gospel as "making her a public example", which shows the objective in punishment – the giving of warning to others.
This can teach us how to scold sinners, without words. "The words of the wise are heard in quiet" (Ecclesiastes 9:17). Christian love and Christian prudence will hide a multitude of sins.
Joseph did not despise Mary, but prayed for her knowing that no one could ever help her but God himself. When Joseph was at a loss, God sent an angel to him that called him by the noble name, “Son of David." The angel put him in mind of his kingly relation and drove away every fear that he might not be afraid of God, nor of humans, nor of laws, since he and Mary were innocent.
The angel confirmed to Joseph that Mary was his legitimate wife according to the laws of betrothal. After this proclamation, the angel did not call Mary "Virgin", rather he clarified to Joseph that the fetus in her womb was of the Holy Spirit according to God’s holy will. God did not want the child, Jesus to be born of a woman suspected by her own husband to be a harlot. The angel urged Joseph to take Mary and embrace her as his wife and provide the protection of a legitimate family. The Lord extended his kind hand and blessed both Joseph and Mary.
The appearance of the angel in Joseph’s dream required Joseph to believe that God, contrary to the laws of nature, is giving birth to a child in Mary and that the child would be a true man as well as the true God.
God speaks to and gives instruction to those who he has prepared for good works; and he has prepared good works for all that belong to him. If you do not hear God, the reason is that you do not belong to him (John 8:47).
We also read in the Koran the story of Mary and her conception of Christ. We find a very unusual statement, "and we breathed into her out of our Spirit", which makes clear that Christ is a son who was not born of a human being nor resulted from a sexual relation, but is of the Spirit of God.

I worship you, God, Heavenly Father, because you did not reject me, but you came to me and put on my sin upon the body of your Son. I glorify you for your reaching the earth. I praise you for your presence with me and I rejoice in the birth of your Son who is of the Holy Spirit, coming through Virgin Mary. Come, Spirit of the Father, and dwell in me that I may be revived and live in your eternal life. Amen.
Why did the angel order Joseph to embrace Mary?