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Devotional Part 12

05 May 2021

Matthew 1

Here we have the genealogy of Jesus laid out for us. His physical heritage, ancestry, pedigree, call it what you will. But with regards to this study one thing immediately springs to mind and it is this, whatever we mean by ‘the flesh’ it is not simply the body, or the physical self.

Here we see that Jesus physical parentage is important, His lineage is important, His DNA, so to speak, is important.

What’s more, at the end of the chapter we are told that Joseph married Mary and that “he knew her not until” after the birth of Jesus.

There’s no mistaking the intent here. Mary and Joseph did not consummate their marriage until after the birth of Jesus.

Now the obvious point Matthew is driving home here is that Jesus’ origin was supernatural. His mother was a virgin. Joseph was not His father.

However, there is another implication that we can take from this for this context. The act of ‘knowing’ his wife was nothing for Joseph to be ashamed of. The physical sexual union of the husband and wife was not to be a cause of shame. It was not for Mary and Joseph, and it should not be for us either.

Whatever we have to say about the flesh, it cannot be reduced to the physical body, nor can it be reduced simply to the natural desires or pleasures enjoyed as a part of embodied experience. It is something else, something more insidious, and that is worthy of baring in mind.

There is however something else that stands out to me in this passage, and that is the character of Jospeh himself.

Joseph was unwilling to put Mary to shame. He had no desire to reap vengeance for what would easily have been perceived as his personal humiliation. Instead he rushed to divorce her quietly - and he gave these circumstances consideration.

He didn’t act impulsively, didn’t act rashly out of ranker or humiliation or a sense of wounded pride.

To put it another way, Joseph didn’t act out of a sinful desire for revenge. He didn’t give full vent to his flesh, which would have been easy to justify to himself as well as to others. In fact, he would have likely been applauded for acting righteously in accordance with the laws and customs of his culture, and in defending his and his family’s honour.

No, he didn’t do any of these things. Instead he gave the matter careful consideration.

It is in the context of his considerations that he is visited by the angel in his dream.

Upon waking from his dream, with the revelation from the angel fresh in his mind and his instructions clear, Joseph simply obeys in faith and, no doubt, at a great cost to his own reputation.

What a gentle hearted, kind, considerate, and faithful man he was. What a loving a faithful example of sacrificial leadership he is to us. There is no glory here for Jospeh, no accolades, no prime position next to the throne. In fact, he disappears so quickly and utterly from the narrative that he is only really mentioned in our churches at Christmas time.

Joseph was not interested in his own fame, glory, power, preeminence, position or reputation. He simply played his part in faithfulness to the Lord, to his wife and to his mysterious new born son, and we are all in his debt for the role he played in God’s grand story.

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