The book of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. One thing that sticks out to me here is verse 6. “…and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah…” Despite his ugly sin in his adultery with Bathsheba, God is gracious enough to continue the ancient bloodline through David and Uriah’s wife. God’s grace is simply amazing. It’s fitting this book starts out with a genealogy with grace as a starting theme, because grace is continually shown again and again by Jesus. After the genealogy of Jesus is given, the story of his earthly parents is told, beginning in verse 18 (note, I will be using the ESV version of the Bible for all my commentary). Here is the scene. Mary is pledged to be married to Joseph, and she is still a virgin. Before they were together, it is found out that Mary is pregnant from the Holy Spirit. Matthew puts the emphasis on Joseph’s reaction first. And in an impossible situation, Joseph gives us a very practical lesson in faith and respect. Verse 19 describes Joseph as “a just man and unwilling to put her to shame.” How many people would respond in that way? With the easy access of Facebook and Twitter, it is so easy to shame someone who has hurt us, to try and retaliate and give people the wounds they’ve given us back. Joseph could’ve created quite a scene, painting Mary as an adulterer and essentially ending her societal life. Yet he chooses to show grace BEFORE it is revealed that Mary’s conception is miraculous. Joseph’s example of faithful grace and compassion to Mary before he had all the facts is something I try to remember when someone has injured me. It is easy to become angry and try to shame someone. It is difficult to show grace. Yet Joseph’s grace does not go unrewarded. Verse 20 states “as he (Joseph) considered these things, behold, angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” What a blessing that must have been for Joseph! The angel tells Joseph not to be afraid to marry Mary, and he gives us the first stated purpose in Matthew of Jesus’s ministry. The end of verse 21 states that “he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus Christ has many wonderful characteristics, and the first given in Matthew is that of Savior. From before the time He was even born, even with all the uncertainty of what would happen between Mary and Joseph, Jesus was and is Savior. After this had taken place, Joseph wakes up, and immediately does as the angel commanded; he marries Mary. Yet he doesn’t sleep with her until she gives birth to Jesus. Joseph was in a rather difficult position throughout the birth of Jesus, yet he always strives to do the right thing before God and remains pure and steadfast. What we can learn from Joseph in this first chapter is to decidedly not shame others and to put our trust in God.
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