Originally scheduled for November 20
husband of Mary, faced one of life’s more unusual decisions when his
wife-to-be informed him that she was pregnant. Joseph, no fool,
immediately had a choice to make:
He could follow the strictest of the Old Testament laws and seek to
have Mary stoned to death. This might’ve brought on some
complications with the Romans, but it was in view.
He also had the choice of divorcing her. In those days that just
required a little legal work, much less so than now.
Mary no doubt
explained to him why she was pregnant. This may have raised some
doubt in Joseph’s mind, but given Mary’s youth (she was probably
about 13) and the uniqueness of her story it’s not at all
unreasonable the Joseph would conclude that something was amiss. So
he had a choice to make. The Scripture tells us that he did the
righteous thing; he was going to divorce her. Interestingly enough,
the “righteous thing” was the choice that did not follow the
strictest of Old Testament law. Why is this righteous?
The truth is
that it is harder to follow Jesus Christ than it is to follow a set
of rules. The Old Testament law is pretty clear: stoning. But I
would point out to you that following this rule does have a tendency
to make you feel very self-righteous. That law is a witch hunter’s
dream. There’s a warning for us in here; if following the rules
makes you feel self-righteous, you might just want to think twice.
The simple truth is this: man’s justice is legalistic. Think about
it; our legal system is, well, legalistic. Our justice system runs
by rules. God’s system runs by his wisdom. Joseph chose wisdom.
a portrayal of that. The Scripture teaches us clearly that the
sacrifice of Christ on the Cross was part of God’s plan from the
beginning. This is clearly indicating to us that dealing with sin by
reconciliation is the wisdom of God from the beginning. Note,
please, the God could at any time have decided to replace us with
some other creature in the hopes of getting better behavior. He was
not interested so much in better behavior as he was in reconciling
us to himself. Legalists want better behavior; those who love want
The war is
not over when you have defeated your enemy in battle. The war is
over when you have made your enemy into your friend. God has done
that. He has reconciled us to himself. Once we were far from him,
now we are his children. This is a great and glorious thing; we
rightly describe the memorial of this as something we “celebrate.”
So as you
partake of communion this morning reflect in your heart that God in
his wisdom has paid for your reconciliation. His body, his blood on
the Cross have turned you from God’s enemy into God’s child. That is
something to celebrate.