The Bible pays Joseph the highest compliment: he was a just man. The
quality meant a lot more than faithfulness in paying debts.
When the Bible speaks of God
"justifying" someone, it means that God, the all-holy or "righteous" One, so transforms a person
that the individual shares somehow in God's own holiness, and hence it is really right for God to
love him or her. In other words, God is not playing games, acting as if we were lovable when we are
By saying Joseph was "just," the Bible means that he was one who was completely open to all
that God wanted to do for him. He became holy by opening himself totally to God.
The rest we can easily
surmise. Think of the kind of love with which he wooed and won Mary, and the depth of the love they
shared during their marriage.
It is no contradiction of Joseph's manly holiness that he decided to divorce Mary when she was
found to be with child. The important words of the Bible are that he planned to do this "quietly"
because he was "a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame" (Matthew
The just man was simply, joyfully, wholeheartedly obedient to God in marrying Mary, in naming
Jesus, in shepherding the precious pair to Egypt, in bringing them to Nazareth, in the undetermined
number of years of quiet faith and courage.
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