I remember the day that Farmer Dean and I went to the cities to an antique store to look for an engagement ring. I had never seen him so nervous. I perused the lovely trays of old rings from the 1920’s and ‘30’s and enjoyed each moment of trying them on. “What do you think about this one?” I asked. “Uh, huh..nice,” he quietly replied. I remember thinking, wow, this guy’s one nervous cat.
I put them all back and we walked down the crowded sidewalk, as I remember watching my breath twirling in the cold winter air, and I looked at this gentle, kind, farmer that was talking about marriage, wondering what was going on inside that head of his.
Apparently, talking about it and doing it were two different things. We had a conversation that I remember didn’t go so well in the truck that day, and then I remember a little stress, a few prayers, and a “let’s pray together.” For whatever reason, fear crept in and heading back to the truck and the farm was looking better for Dean. But after that prayer, back into the store we went.
Once Deano paid for the ring, there was such relief. His shoulders released, his breath came easier and the wrinkles across his forehead disappeared. For some reason that moment in time was hard for him. I guess to go from the “I love you,” to “here’s your ring,” at his ripe age of 45 and a bachelor, was a big jump. He did it and was so happy and excited. But the moments before that release into relief, were fairly anxious for both of us.
As we read scripture, looking at Matthew 1:18, we see Joseph is pulling a Farmer Deano. Mary was already engaged to Joseph, but before they were literally married and intimate, he found out she was pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
As I read that, I always think they must have been scared silly. This is something that’s never been done before and won’t be done again. The Holy Spirit has placed a child in the womb of a virgin. Never done before, it must have been mind boggling.
Joseph considers in those brief moments a divorce. First century engagements were binding premarital contracts that led to marriage. You had one year of engagement and the couple would behave just like husband and wife (except no intimacy). To break this agreement off, a divorce was required. So, he’s thinking of heading back to the truck and driving back to the farm.
But he’s debating. After all, he’s been engaged to this woman and I believe he loves her with his whole heart. I love how scripture tells us, “Because Joseph, her husband, was a righteous man….” He was a good man. A God-fearing man. And God knew when He picked Mary, that she would be married to Joseph. Not only was this woman chosen for the mother, but this man was chosen for the Earthly dad.
God’s ready for the fear now, and furrowed brow, and He sends an angel of the Lord in a dream that tells this nervous cat, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
Now, that news is strange enough, but the next line gives me chills as I think about this man named Joseph, descendant of the King (David) that God says is a man after His own heart, and scripture says, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
Sure we like to hold Mary up. She conceived Him, carried Him in her womb, loved Him, delivered Him, and was His mom, but this man named Joseph, had just as much responsibility, in helping to raise the Son of God. Oh what a joy it must have been to raise Him. What a privilege. And yet, don’t you think that always, somewhere in the back of his mind, he would wonder about that one simple statement,
“I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child
Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You’ll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine
Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight.”
Joseph’s Song by Mercy Me