“Joseph, son of David, fear not…”- Matthew 1:20
It seemed that Joseph was afraid. God seemed to sense fear in Joseph if we would consider the manner the angel of the Lord spoke to him. Apostle Matthew did not say as to how Joseph learned about Mary’s pregnancy. If Mary herself told, or if he heard it from Elizabeth was unclear. If Mary told him about the holy pregnancy, Joseph could have felt unworthy of such holiness, which caused a kind of fear in him or if he suspected that Mary might be seeing someone else, perhaps he was afraid of reproach or rejection. Observe, when the angel appeared to him in a dream, the angel opened the message with this statement, “Joseph son of David… fear not… to take unto you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
“Joseph son of David… fear not…” The angel of the Lord reminded him of who he is in God’s eyes and how important his role would be in the plan of God for the salvation of the entire human race. It dispelled doubt about Mary’s faithfulness or insecurity in his part if there was any. The message of the angel of the Lord gave him first; an affirmation of his place in the eyes of God and second; a validation of Mary’s faithfulness and third, the fulfillment of the prophecy about the Messiah who would be born in his family line. It strengthened him and led him to make the right decision. Joseph found refuge in his relationship with God
“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, decided to put her away privately.” –Matthew 1:19
When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, he did not want to expose her to public disgrace so he decided to divorce her privately. Observe, Matthew described him as being “a righteous man”.
Consider the situation; Jewish custom in their day recognized a state of “betrothal” in marriage. Their betrothal vows bind them both and only a writ of divorce can set either of them free. Therefore, if a betrothed woman became pregnant, the law would condemn her as an adulterer. In Deuteronomy 22:23-24, a young woman who was a virgin and betrothed to a husband, and another man found her in the city and lied with her; they could be condemned with adultery and stoned to death as a manner of punishment. Mary and her child could die if the situation reached the people who were enforcing the laws aside from the public disgrace that she would bear if she would be condemned as an adulterer. Clearly, Joseph wanted to save her life, dignity, and purity by setting her free from her vow. In a manner of saying, he was a martyr.
Joseph must have loved Mary very much. He would rather sacrifice his own feelings than see Mary suffer. In Ephesians 5:25, we can read God’s command, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…” Clearly, Joseph has a heart after God’s heart. He is living with the righteousness of God in his heart. He has loved Mary more than he has loved himself. It is safe to say that God has chosen not only Mary to raise the Savior child, but both of them as faithful and obedient couple.