Joseph sat in his work room, the cradle on his lap. One last bronze nail and he would be done making the cradle for little Ezra. Actually it was at his mother’s request. Sara, his cousin on his fathers side was all grown up, married, and now looking forward to her first child. Like all the Jews, she wanted a boy first. Hence the name Ezra. Since Joseph didn’t know if the baby was going to be a boy or a girl, he had decided not to chisel a name on the head of the cradle. Besides, no one knew how many more births this cradle would go through.
Joseph could remember his cousin’s birth. Sara’s mother had had a hard time birthing her. The lives of both mother and daughter were at stake here. He hadn’t made her a cradle as things were a little uncertain and he was busy building his carpentry business. Here he was, years later, making a cradle for her first child. He had made homes, windows, plows and yokes. All kinds of things. So that now he could take the time to make cradles. He didn’t like being old but he did like the skill and experience from so many years in the carpentry business. He was a good carpenter, reliable and honest. Too bad he didn’t have someone with whom he could share his knowledge.
He heard somebody come in the shop and turned to greet his visitor. It was Benjamin from the temple. Sometimes Benjamin worked with him. He was 20 years younger, very reliable, and very strong.
Apparently they were looking for a husband for one of the temple virgins. Joseph, being a bachelor, a devout Jew, from the line of David, and a very Godly person, was always a potential prospect to them. He believed he was too old to marry a temple virgin. She would be about 14 years old. He wanted to decline Benjamin’s invitation but you didn’t say “no” to the High Priest.
Laying the cradle aside, Joseph made excuses for not going with Benjamin. Benjamin stopped him in mid-sentence.
“It is not for you I am asking. It is for me so I have some support.” he said. “I need someone to verify what a good husband I would be. You are my best support system. Please come with me.”
Joseph could not make an excuse for that so he grabbed his cloak and headed out the door. All the character traits that made Benjamin a good co-worker would also make him a good husband and father.
Arriving at the temple, they joined the dozen or so men gathered there hoping to be betrothed to the virgin, Mary. She was not there but the High Priest had a sign from God to determine the recipient. His rod, gathered as they entered, would bud and a dove would land on the head of the owner. The High Priest said a prayer and the ceremony began.
As the High Priest confronted each man and gave him back his rod, nothing happened. At the end of the ceremony it was decided that God did not want anyone there to be this virgin’s husband.
Then the High Priest noticed Joseph and asked for his rod. He gave the High Priest his rod and immediately it began to bud and a dove landed on Joseph’s head. It was the heavenly sign that Joseph was the intended husband for the virgin, Mary. Joseph protested weakly that he was too old to marry. God had spoken and Joseph did what he always did. He obeyed the will of God.
Betrothed. That was a contract. You didn’t just walk away from a contract. There were legalities attached. The Law of God said “you will marry this person.” The next step was to “take her as your wife.” Why would God insist that I marry her? No getting around that. God gave the sign and Joseph must follow after. But why did God want him to marry her?
Joseph took her to his home, packed his tools, saddled his donkey and left her there. He had a job to do in Bethany that would take several months. Maybe he would have an answer by then. First, he would drop off the cradle to Sara’s house, then go on down to Bethany.
He prayed all the way to Bethany. He didn’t want to get married. Especially to a person so young . His business was going good. He had money saved. He was settled and happy. God loved him. People loved him. But God had intended for him to marry her. That was so very obvious. She had been raised in the temple so she was very God-fearing. He liked that part as it would give them some common ground between them. Still, marriage?
For the next 6 months Joseph asked himself these questions. He prayed about it. Then brooded over it. He did not want to marry. But this is what God wanted. His spirit told him this was right, but why now? The only reason to marry was to produce children and he didn't want that at this age. What did God have in mind? .
When Joseph returned home, he noticed Mary was pregnant. She then told him about the angel and the message about the Christ that she was carrying. Joseph knew the baby was not his as he had had no intimacy with her to this point. Accusing her of being with a man, she vehemently denied it. Joseph left her and tried to think about the situation.
If he concealed her crime, he would be found guilty by the Law of the Lord. Yet if she was really pregnant by an angel and he told the children of Israel, he was afraid he would betray the life of an innocent person. The more he thought about it, the more convinced he was that the best decision would be to put her away privately.
As night had fallen, Joseph went to bed. During the night, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and said ``Fear not to take Mary as your wife for that which is within her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Joseph awakened and began praising the Lord for showing him the path he was to take. The angel had confirmed Mary’s story. “Thank you God. Thanks an awful lot.” He would do as the Lord directed him to. He still did not want to get married but put his feelings aside. He knew God’s plan for him. He was excited and relieved and knew God had arranged this marriage because of his faithfulness to Him.. He was also humbled and honored to be chosen to be Mary’s husband.
He was to be an earthly father to the Son of God. Joseph had only one question. How does an earthly father raise a heavenly Son of God?