A Divine Assignment
Was Mary legally married to Joseph?
Understanding the account of Matthew Gospel and The Holy Scriptures; Mary the Mother of Jesus was said to be espoused to Joseph whom the bible called her husband (Matthew 1: 19). To be exposed in our modern English was interpreted by some people to be engagement or betrothed. Nevertheless to be betrothed in Jewish traditional law of engagement a female to a man as wife was a legal marriage. It was conducted with exchange of marriage rites and gifts, conducted and declared publicly before the spouse’s parents with her interest and agreement sought before concluding ceremonies. The spouse was subsequently attached to the man as wife.
When God created Adam and made a woman out of him for a companion and helper, the bible said Eve was called the wife of her husband and Adam was called the husband of Eve(Genesis 1: 27; 2: 21 – 25 3: 16 – 20). God did put people of the opposite sex to live in partnership without obligation and responsibility to each other in marriage. God constituted the first couple on earth and joined them together as Husband and Wifefor us to follow the example. He did not join a ‘man to a man’ or a ‘woman to a woman’; neither did He put different sexes together to co-habit as ‘husband and wife’ without legal marriage. To live with someone of the opposite sex and having physical sexual contact as though you are ‘husband and wife’ is punishable sin from God. Going against God’s moral standard comes with a heavy penalty. He created us and lovingly set the profitable moral rules for man’s existence on earth. Any philosophy of man against it will definitely accrue heavy penalty.
It is important to note that if Joseph and Mary living together was not accepted as legal marriage (husband and wife) after the Jewish rites of marriage were ceremonially performed, Joseph would not have thought of “putting her away”, though in a manner not to put her to public shame. Innocent woman Mary did not know what was going on in the mind of her husband, Joseph. The devil was speaking to the mind of Joseph the ‘right thing to do’ under Jewish law but with a very wrong foundation for divorce because there was no facts (catching Mary with another man sexually) as required by the same law. Luke’s detail account of the event showed Mary as saying “how shall this be seeing that I know not a man” when the angel told her that she was favoured to bring the Son of God into the world. Until further explanation by the angel she did not know it will come to pass in a mysterious and miraculous manner (Luke 1: 26 – 35). Nevertheless it was not recorded that she revealed the visitation of the angel of good news to her Husband, Joseph. Accordingly, one can understand Joseph’s confusion as he meditated on what the devil spoke to his mind – divorce.
In Jewish nation “putting away” a woman means to divorce a woman, not just mere separation that is common and rampant in our days. But for the intervention of the angel, Joseph thought Mary had committed adultery; and desired in his heart to divorce her (put her away) secretly to avoid public disgrace associated with such sin. After all the Jewish tradition copied from Egypt allowed putting a wife away at will before a law was giving to give the woman a written of divorcement to stem the abuse Deut 24: 1- 4. The bible said in Matthew 1: 19 that “then Joseph her husband being a just man … “. You can only be called a husband if you are married to someone of the opposite sex who is a woman. Therefore as evidently recorded, Joseph and Mary were legally married; but by God’s divine arrangement Joseph was not Jesus’s physical father, only the earthly childhood caretaker after He was born; being the legal husband of Mary (Jesus’s divine delivery vessel to come into the world). The bible also confirms that Joseph knew her not (Joseph had no sexual contact with Mary) till she had brought forth her firstborn Son and he called His name JESUS Matt 1: 25. God’s way is not that of man Isaiah 55: 8 – 11.
During our Lord’s ministry on earth, His teachings on the subject of marriage confirms that “putting away” as a phrase means divorce. He made this clear in Matthew 5: 22. Here He stated the only grounds for divorce once a marriage was constituted. He used both “putting away” and “divorce” as meaning the same. Invariably Mary was by tradition legally married to Joseph; that was the only reason Joseph wanted to “put her away” by suspicion, seeing a pregnancy he did not contribute physically to. He was probably ready to swear in the courts though he equally did not see Mary with any man. He would not think of “putting away” if Mary was not His wife. To put her away privily did not mean he would have shown her the back door and closed it before her and say ‘please go away so no one will know and do not come back again’. What it meant was that he would have approached her family privately and hand her back with whatever legal and traditional requirement fulfilled. Joseph would have kindly given her a writing of divorcement in the presence of only two or three witnesses privily or without a person, and without going through a council of elders. Perhaps also because any proven adultery was death in the Jewish law Deut 24: 1- 4; Deut 22: 22, Leviticus 20: 10; Lev 18: 20; Numbers 5: 11 – 31.
Any natural man in Joseph’s shoes would think the same way. In the case of Marry heaven bear her witness that she was a virgin who knew no man yet; even at the time she lived with her legal husband Joseph. She was divinely sort out and chosen for a special delivery.
The words of the angel further confirm their union as legal marriage. The angel said to Joseph, “thou son of David, fear not to take with thee Mary thy wife”. “Mary thy wife” meant that they were already married and recognised as such by the Jewish tradition and society. Mary had witness from heaven, from which marriage was constituted as a holy institution and the partakers of marriage must satisfy this condition before it was recognised. So Mary and Joseph by God’s plan did not deviate from legal marriage requirements. The angel did not say ‘take Mary, the woman you were contemplating of marrying as thy wife’ despite her condition’. That would have implied they were not yet regarded as husband and wife. Rather he said to Joseph “Mary the wife”, a confirmation no one can deny. A woman can be called a wife to a man only if she was married to that man; and recognised as such, even in our debased world. From biblical times till now you do not divorce a fornicator because there is nothing legally binding between the sinful partners. You can only divorce a legally married wife or husband. This norm has never changed.
Accordingly if the angel did not intervene Mary would have been seen as an adulterous wife (not a fornicator: 1 Corinthians 7: 2); considering the pregnancy without Joseph’s physical involvement as a legal husband at the time of Jesus in the womb. The intervention was a proof that there was no error about the nature of their union before God. Therefore to resolve the confusion in Joseph’s mind a messenger was sent from above and Joseph had the peace that eluded him for a while and happily accepted the privilege of having a wife chosen by God for a special assignment.
God is Holy (Leviticus11:45; 1 Peter 1: 15), and His eyes cannot behold sin (Habakkuk 1:15). God would not have permitted an adulterous woman or a fornicator to be used as the vessel to bring into the world someone He declared to be His only begotten Son; a Son who was declared to be Holy from creation. Adultery was also the 7th sin mentioned in the Ten Commandments which we are warned against in the bible (Exodus 20: 4). The commandment still holds today in spite of the debased whoredom in todays’ societies all over the world Psalm 119: 89; Isaiah 40: 8; Malachi 3:6; Ezekiel 18: 4.
Jesus is sinless and He is the only Holy One. So Mary’s virgin conception and birth of her first born Child Jesus was of no physical contact with man, Joseph. Jesus Christ is the only awesome Mystery in creation; a living reality and will always be. The world cannot do without Him, hence He was sent to the world. 1 Timothy 3: 16 says And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness (the Divine plan Jesus represents), God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory. We human beings lack the very knowledge we need if we do not have understanding of who Jesus Christ is. The bible is about Jesus; all true prophecies of the Holy Scriptures was about Jesus from His birth to His resurrection; all tallied and were fulfilled in Him. We are only waiting for the last event – His second coming in glory, and it shall soon be fulfilled. Are you ready for this event for all eyes shall see Him coming in the clouds with power and glory with His angels to call back genuine Christians to the Father and un-believers to hell immediately. Are you ready? Make your choice of eternity today. Hebrew 1: 1-3; Revelation 19: 10; 2 Peter 1: 20 – 21
What did the prophets say about Jesus coming to earth?
Isaiah 9: 6 for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, the government shall be on his shoulder, and his name shall be called wonderful, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.
John 1: 29 The next day John sees Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.
What did Jesus say about His coming to earth
John 3; 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3: 17 For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 8; 12 He that believeth in me shall not work in darkness but shall have the light of life.
John 11: 25 I am the resurrection, and the life, he that believeth in me, though he was dead, yet shall he live.
John 14: 6 I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me
John 8: 24 I say therefore unto you, you shall die in your sins if you do not believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.
What did the apostles say about Jesus coming to earth?
Acts 4: 12 neither is their salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.
1 Timothy 2: 5 for there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus
1 John 5: 11- 13 And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life, and he that has not the Son has no life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
What did the angels say about Jesus coming on earth?
Luke 1: 35 The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that Holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of the Highest.
Luke 2: 10 – 11 and the angel said unto them, fear not foe I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Christmas is all about the joy of a Saviour born to the world whose name is Jesus the Son of God and Easter celebration is always to remember the penalty He paid for our sins, died, and rose again; that those who will accept it will be forgiven by God of all their sins Romans 5: 8; 1 John 1: 7. Accept Him today and your life will never be the same. God has done all He wanted to do for us to be forgiven of all our sins. Jesus represents that true love of God for you. Christmas should not be a time to commit further sin and die in it without repentance. There is no repentance after death and that is, sincerely speaking a destiny in eternity of a very painful disappointment. Be wise, enjoy Christmas every year with spiritual meaning and perfect understanding.