Mary knew from Gabriel about her upcoming divine conception before Joseph did. (Luke 1:26-35) Why God had Luke record the inside scoop on this news is baffling to some readers, but if you consider the task we all have in building relationships, we can see a great godly example in Joseph & Mary, in how they handle trusting each other when trust seems broken. Can you think of areas of distrust in any close relationship? What can we do to increase our trust in each other?
Whenever or however Joseph learnt about her pregnancy, God knew Joseph’s heart and revealed to the world two facts about the attitude of Joseph, firstly, his high regard for Mary’s reputation, Mat. 1:19. Secondly, God knew Joseph was sleeping on the intent of a secret divorce and in his dream, the angel calmed his spirit from fear with the news of divine conception, Mat. 1:20-24. He helped her through labor and helped her through childbirth with at least 6 more children, Mt. 13:55-56. He supported them at least another 12 years or so, but after that, we hear nothing more of Joseph. That is love. A plausible theory for his absence, is that his carpentry skills (Mark 6:3) would have been truly needed in the context of what happened during his lifetime in the nearby town of Sepphoris (4 miles NW of Nazareth) where the Romans were busy building and investing in the city. Sepphoris in 63 BC held a synod of Roman influence in the Near East as an administrative center of Galilee. After Herod the Great’s death in 4 BC at Jericho, a rebel named Judas son of Ezekias, attacked Sepphoris, and destroyed its treasury and weapons, Judas led an armed revolt against Herodian rule. Then the Roman Governor in Syria, Varus, is reported by Josephus to have burnt Sepphoris down, and sold its inhabitants into slavery. When Herod’s son, Herod Antipas was made governor, he proclaimed the city’s new name to be Autocratoris, and rebuilt it as the “Ornament of Galilee” (Josephus, Ant. 18.27). The new population was loyal to Rome and might have ‘recruited’ Joseph the carpenter for his skill in the renovation of the city. This would explain his absence from the gospel narrative. If it is true, it would give Jesus the life experience behind one of his sayings in Matthew 5:38-45.
Joseph and Mary raised Jesus with the words of God from memory, directly from God’s angels, but to a larger degree they raised him with the words of the Old Testament. So just like us today, Mary and Joseph lived by faith in God, based on what was written. How did Mary and Joseph do as parents? We get a glimpse of their lives as faithful people and as parents in Luke 2:21-24 & 41. The legal guardian of Jesus ensured he was taught physical truths in their economy, helping him become a carpenter, and his mother taught spiritual truths with an emphasis on Scripture when rearing all their children, we know two of their sons (James & Jude) grew up to be Christians, authoring New Testament letters. They exalted their elder brother as the Christ!
Mary the mother of Jesus has the notable position in the New Testament of being called “highly favored” Luke 1:28, “blessed” Luke 1:42, and a “humble servant” Luke 1:48. Jesus refers to her motherhood as of equal importance to any sister that follows, trusts and obeys him, see Mark 3:35. In the mind of God, He obviously saw Mary redeemed by the same blood that redeems you and me, and would not elevate her in a position above any faithful sister, Ephesians 1:3-5. Jesus knew this is how Mary expected to be treated, because she knew that Jesus knew her sin and her need for salvation, just like any of us. The last we hear of Mary is that she steadfastly kept praying with the church, even after losing her son, she knew His Spirit would come! Acts 1:14. Parents would do their children a great service by being honest and open about their own need for forgiveness, teaching them to rely on the Scriptures for wisdom & salvation. The household of Christ ought to always have active parents with this emphasis in the church, they are essential and as equally important as Mary herself!