News of his birth casts a sacred shadow across Mary's eyes. When Joseph looks back, the gaze is heavy with perplexities. The words of fatherhood filled Joseph's mind while his heart began pouring empty in shame. His righteousness kept legal papers unsigned. The village gossip would suffocate his name for generations.
Could hard work and bending his life to the Law fill in the crevices made by Mary's conceiving outside of the marriage union? A cracked vessel isn't worth much.
He worshipped the same God that Mary is claiming spoke to her through stories of hidden manna and now through words that promised a son.
The angels stopped the rising fog of Joseph's fear by whispering to his mind so that his heart could dare believe.
"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
With those words, he awoke. His hands, rough from hours of hammering, carving years into his hands. Wringing, they dissolved into one another as he wrestled with his own humanity. God was asking him to adopt the Son of God as his own. Take Jesus by the temple to be blessed and circumcised. Teach him about Moses' walking his people through the weary waters of the Red Sea. Explain God's promise to Abraham of blessing the tribes Joseph couldn't even bring up in a dream.
The shame of having a young, pregnant wife seemed to melt into a heavy yolk of acceptance. Joseph would adopt Jesus. As a father, to remain a rock of righteousness for Jesus as he grew in wisdom and stature. The whispers of his neighbors would remain an unceasing chorus in Joseph's waking hours. Adoption was reserved for the children orphaned by war or famine, but bloodlines were what kings were made of. Bloodlines reminded one that you belong to something bigger that yourelf-a genealogy. Joseph's 'yes' was a decree of prophecy fulfilled. Jesus would now be counted in King David's family line.
His 'yes' was allowing history to be redeemed.
Joseph had to realize that his own obedience in adopting Jesus would complete a creation that had begun spinning the second the world was called into order. He was living through the birth of a child that would flip reality on its side. A reality that would use adoption to express the abundance of love the Father felt for His children. No longer did people have to rely on their hometown or priestly connections to become members of the fold. Bloodlines became references in history books, relationships became the new chapters written.
The Christmas story is the narrative of a marked young girl accepting the words spoken softly by the company of angels. The lines in the story continue because the adoptive father said 'yes.' Without Joseph's arms reaching into grace and pulling out beauty, the manger scene becomes a tragic historical event. We have all been pulled through our own tragedy by a heart that blurs the lines of worldly connection. Jesus understands adoption not only because of Joseph, but because his Father decided to use it to bring us back home to Him.
This blog asks the question, "If Joseph were Chinese, would he have adopted Jesus." Good, thought provoking words.