THE EARTHLY FAMILY OF JESUS
Mary was about 12 years old when betrothed to marry Joseph. Joseph was likely about 40 years old. The betrothal was the only legal ceremony. It took a divorce to be break the betrothal. The betrothal was the acceptance of the marriage to come, taken before witnesses. Jacob took seven years paying the dowry for Rachel, and seven years for Leah. During the betrothal period, unfaithfulness was "adultery" (Deuteronomy 22:23, Matthew 1:19)
The fact that Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus, was very significant. He had the legal right to the throne of David. His lineage is significant. The Jews put much emphasis on genealogies, so the fact of Jesus being descended from David, of vital importance.
In Matthew, the genealogy is in three parts.
From Abraham to David
From David to the captivity
From the captivity to Christ
Matthew goes back to Abraham to show that Jesus was not just of Judah, but of the same lineage as all of Israel.
It was unusual to mention, but there are four women listed in the lineage of Jesus. Tamar, committed adultery with Judah to bring about the lineage as prophesied. Rahab, was a Gentile who by faith in the God of Israel was included by God into this lineage. Ruth, a Gentile that love for the people of God, and a love for the God of that same people, was brought into the lineage. Bathsheba, a Gentile, and David reached out to bring her into the lineage.
In the lineage, Joseph is called the "husband of Mary" not the "father of Jesus". Jesus was the legitimate son of Joseph, therefore entitled to the throne. After being legally betrothed, Joseph learned of Mary's pregnancy. A betrothed man had a duty in the matter. Being just, righteous.. he could not overlook the apparent sin" of Mary. Being loving, he desired to deal tenderly, not wishing to expose her. So he decided to put her away privately.
"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife."
The alternatives of Joseph were public exposure and public humiliation possibly leading to stoning, or to quietly cancel the betrothal.
The dream of Joseph gave Joseph the answer. The angel addresses Joseph as a "son of David" to remind him of the expectancy he was to have as to having the Messiah through his lineage. With the revelation of the identity of the unborn child, Joseph ceased from brooding doubts. Then, Joseph was told the name "Jesus" a name all of Judah wanted to give their sons.
God gave more guidance,
"Arise, take the child and His mother."
The Old Testament had foretold of a Son born of a virgin, and so Joseph hesitated no more and took Mary into his house to assure Jesus the legitimate claim to be Joseph's heir.
This father, Joseph was a carpenter.
"Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James and Joses, and Simon and Judas?"
Joseph was also a just man.
"Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily."
The annunciation to Mary at Nazareth is recorded in:
"...Hail, thou who art highly favored, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women... Fear not, for thou hast found favor with God."
After learning from the angel of her blessed CHILD being placed in her womb. Mary departs to "hill country" "with haste" "into a city of Judah" to see Elizabeth, her aunt. There Elizabeth greets her with:
"(vs. 42) Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb."
Mary stayed with Elizabeth three months.
"And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house."
At Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were visited by shepherds.
"And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field... And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."
The Levite shepherds told of the angelic chorus that they had witnessed and these same shepherds became the first preachers. Mary pondered these sayings of the shepherds for many years.
Mary was "highly favored". She was more favored than any other woman, to be the mother of the Lord.
The Son she was to bear– was:
to be called "the Son of the Most High" (Luke 1:32)
to be given the "throne of David"
His reign to be eternal (Luke 1:32-33, Isa. 9:6-7)
to be holy from the womb (Luke 1:35)
to have the name "Jesus" (Luke 1:31)
to be sinless.
Mary accepted all these truths in humility.
"And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."
Mary was to not only have the blessing of sword to pierce through her own soul.
"(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Mary's character was one to be greatly admired. She had a quietness of spirit, a meditative, inwardness of disposition, self-control, and she was very devout. She was honored and favored of God for such character.
Mary continued to have such disposition and character, because she knew that she was raising the Messiah. The love of offspring was deeply embedded in Hebrew women. (Jacob obeyed his father and mother, the law said to honor father and mother, a child that strikes a father or mother was killed (Exodus 20:15-17). Thus showing the great respect given by God to the mother.
The Psalmist says that the deepest grief is for a mother:
"I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother."
The Lord tells us that the greatest human comfort comes from a mother:
"As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you."
Who did God choose to be the mother of Jesus? Mary, a descendant of David, a young girl, a devout person.
more to come on the earthly family of Jesus