probably can’t imagine the emotions in the heart of Joseph, or how his
mind was racing, when he heard of the pregnancy of his fiancée Mary.
We’re told simply near the beginning of Matthew’s gospel that Joseph was
a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose Mary to the law, and so he
decided to divorce her quietly. A dream changed all of that. Joseph
grew beyond the common understanding of “righteousness”
to accept an invitation (and the Grace) from God to do higher things.
Later in the same gospel of Matthew, Jesus will repeatedly urge His
followers to do the same: He says candidly, “Unless your righteousness
surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the
Kingdom of Heaven.” Then He goes on to give example after example: “You
have heard it said…, but what I say to you is…” Was it Jesus who
spiritually reached from His mother’s womb to invite Joseph to a higher
righteousness – a foreshadowing of the surpassing righteousness He will
speak of in from the Sermon on the Mount – or maybe, just maybe, did
Jesus learn about a higher righteousness as a child watching Joseph?
Children learn so much from their parents just by watching. If Joseph
provided Jesus a model of living in holiness beyond the dictates of the
law – a righteousness surpassing that of the Scribes and Pharisees – it was a gift from Jesus’ true and heavenly Father, the gift of family life and a model for us all.