July 10, 2018

Jesus in Joseph’s Household (Matthew 1)

Category: Bible - NT - Matthew :: Permalink

Why is it so important that Joseph not divorce Mary when he found out that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit?

The answer is found in what the angel calls Joseph when he first speaks to him: “Joseph, son of David.”

We don’t know what tribe Mary was from. Even if she was from the tribe of Judah, which we don’t know, there’s no reason to think that she was herself in the house and line of David. If she was descended from David, we know nothing of it. But — and this is what Scripture draws our attention to — Joseph was.  Matthew has just given us Joseph’s genealogy, and he reminds us of it again by quoting what the angel called him.  Joseph is the sole link between Jesus and David.

And yet Joseph himself did not beget Jesus.  David’s line did not produce the Messiah.  Instead, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary.

But Joseph too plays a crucial role.  Because Joseph was David’s heir and Mary was in Joseph’s household, being betrothed to him and legally considered his wife, her son would also be in the house and line of David. But that’s true only if Mary stays in Joseph’s house.

And so it is essential that Joseph not divorce Mary, that he remain uninvolved as far as the conception is concerned and yet that he also remain Mary’s husband.  In this way, the baby conceived by the Spirit and born of Mary is born in David’s house as David’s heir.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:34 pm | Discuss (2)

2 Responses to “Jesus in Joseph’s Household (Matthew 1)”

  1. Alex Krause Says:

    Dear John
    Did you ever consider Luke’s genealogy as Mary’s. Perhaps this will solve many problems. It’s quite elegant since Jesus had to be from David’s body according to the specific promise given to him.
    It’s no argument to say that the lineage is through males Mary wasn’t married yet. Notice in Luke Elizabeth was of priestly descent females had descent yet the children are reckoned from the male. Since Jesus was born of a virgin he fulfilled the promise to David. Jesus was of the seed of David through Mary.

  2. John Barach Says:

    Hello, Alex!

    The genealogy in Luke is not Mary’s genealogy. It says explicitly “being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, of Heli, of Matthat, etc.” It’s Joseph who is the son of Heli. There’s nothing that even hints to us that it could be *Mary* who was “the son (!?) of Heli, etc.”

    For a very good discussion of these genealogies and how both of them are Joseph’s, even though they differ, see Jakob van Bruggen’s Christ on Earth.

    We have no genealogy for Mary, no hint as to whether she was from Judah, let alone that she was from the house of David.

    But she was legally married to Joseph. Her “betrothal” was not like our engagement. She lives with him and travels with him to Bethlehem. She is called his wife and Joseph is called her husband. It’s through him — he’s the one Matthew says is from the house and line of David! — that Jesus is of the seed of David.

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