In the genealogy of Christ, many of Israel’s most revered patriarchs committed painful sins against women. Rather than hiding the shame, Matthew almost highlights it, including four women with controversial reputations.
But it continues. I love how this particular commentator notes that God could have minimized the embarrassment of the virgin birth by having Mary conceive before she was engaged. However, in His all knowing wisdom, God chose the moments after Mary was betrothed. This would dishonor and bring shame not only to Mary, but to Joseph and upon her whole household. There are consequences to be obedience–Mary knew this.
Does this not demonstrate that God’s ways are different than our ways? Does this not serve as a reminder that when obedience has an unexpected cost, it doesn’t mean that we should back down? Am I not encouraged to know that even if all others condemn and question me, I am to hold to what God has promised me?
But this story obviously isn’t about Mary alone. Consider Joseph for a moment. Did he not have the option of casting aside Mary and demanding she be stoned? Would that have been the righteous thing to do? Even though the BIble does call for adulterers to be stoned in the Old Testament, even in the womb Jesus is bring a new Gospel. The Bible declares that Joseph was a righteousness immediately following his desire to divorce her quietly. In doing so, there is no doubt that people would have believed Joseph to be the father. Indeed, Jesus is later called the “son of Joseph” indicating that even decades later, people commonly believed that Joseph was the father.
And so, I must come to the same conclusion as Brunner: “Righteousness is not only the determination to be personally impeccable (a frequent misunderstanding) but often the determination, if necessary at one’s own expense, to bear the guilt of others.”
Whose guilt shall you cause me to bear for Your glory, Father?