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Joseph's Role in God's Plan: The Legal Father of Jesus

Welcome to A Journey through the New Testament! In this series, we will systematically journey through every chapter in the New Testament, unveiling the marvelous insights that can be found in the scriptures.

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In Matthew 1:16, it might appear perplexing at first as it states, "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."

This verse can be confusing if not understood correctly. Why did Matthew dedicate so much time to writing Joseph's genealogy when we know that God was the true Father of Jesus? To address this, we must consider the circumstances surrounding Mary's pregnancy.

Mary's pregnancy took place while she was betrothed to Joseph. It was part of God's wisdom to wait until Mary had demonstrated her purity and chastity before and during the betrothal period. According to Jewish customs, premarital intimacy rendered a woman defiled and unsuitable for marriage. Thus, Mary's betrothal served as a testament to her virtuous character, silencing those who might later accuse her or doubt her role as the bearer of the Holy One.

In Jewish tradition and law, betrothal is the first stage of marriage, known as "shiddukin" in Hebrew. It typically lasted for a year before the wedding night, and unlike an engagement, it was legally binding and required a formal divorce to dissolve it. During the betrothal year, the woman continued to reside with her parents and was referred to as a "wife," even though the marriage had not been consummated (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).

Understanding the betrothal of Joseph and Mary from the perspective that they were in the initial stage of marriage, we can discern that God wasn't merely giving the child to Mary; rather, it's more accurate to say that He was entrusting the child to Joseph's family. Joseph was chosen to be Jesus' earthly father, the head of the household, and the one responsible for raising the Child according to God's standards.

God entrusted Joseph with His Son to be a father to Him. Even though Jesus did not share Joseph's biological lineage, he was legally recognized as Joseph's son and heir. This was a tremendous responsibility, and it is why the genealogy honors Joseph by referring to him as Jesus' father, highlighting his lineage and confirming that even the legal father of Jesus is a descendant of David. Such a deeply sentimental and trust-filled gift from our affectionate God.

To see Mary’s genealogy read Luke 3:23-38

  • Written by Kareem Flowers, Sunrise with Jesus

Please share in the comments something that God gave you that made you realize how much He loves and trusts you.

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