- Written by Andy Searles
Joseph and Mary were ‘pledged’ to be married. This was the second step in the three-step process of what it meant to be married. Step one was that your parents would work out the details of the union and would work out a price for the bride that would be paid, etc. Step two is that a public announcement would be made, similar to an engagement today, except that it was much more binding… in fact, it could only be broken through death and divorce. During this year of engagement, sex was NOT permitted. But…Joseph had just found out that Mary was pregnant! Joseph found himself between a rock and a hard place.
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." Matt 1:18-19
Rock! Hard place! ...Joseph!
Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness carried a severe social stigma and according to the law he had a right to divorce her - he could even have had her stoned to death.
Rock! Hard Place! ...Joseph!
Have you ever been there? Not pregnant with the son of God, but caught between a rock and a hard place?!
For Joseph, the rock was that he had great compassion for Mary and the last thing that he wanted to do was to expose her to public disgrace. The Hard Place was that he didn’t want to go against God’s laws and carry the weight of, in the words of the A-Team, a crime that he didn’t commit.
When caught between a rock and a hard place it often appears that there are really only three things that we can do to get out of the jam. We read in these verses from Matthew that Joseph did all three;
1) First… seek to do what is right. We read that David was a righteous man, telling us that even though he was somewhat stuck, he really wanted to do the right thing.
2) Second…. Plan. What are the steps that I need to take to get out of this mess? What process can I set up to find a way out of this? We read that Joseph had planned to divorce her quietly.
3) Thirdly… sometimes we just have to make a decision and live with it. We have to set our resolve that we’re going to live with whatever fall out there will be. We read that Joseph had great resolve as he made this decision.
Joseph thought he had two options – divorce her publically or dismiss her quietly, but God had another option. It is important that we wrestle with difficult decisions, seeking to do what is right, but let’s not forget that often God has options for us that we can’t even imagine. This angelic appearance provided for David a third option, encouraging him to make a great decision rather than just a good decision. When you find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place, let Joseph’s story remind you that God may have another, better option for us.
Recently I was talking with a couple who were on the verge of divorce. The question was posed to me, “Which would God rather have? For someone to get divorced or for someone living in an abusive marriage?” It seemed like this couple was caught between the rock and the hard place… but God has a lot more options than just the black and white that we so often see.
Joseph’s Christmas? Rock… Hard place…an option giving God!