The Birth of Jesus: Matthew 1:18-25
“18) Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19) And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20) But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21) And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22) Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23) “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24) And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25) but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew‬ ‭1:18-25‬ ‭
True to form, Matthew records the birth of Jesus from the perspective of Joseph. They were engaged and he was busy preparing a place for his new bride. It was during this phase of their engagement that he discovered that Mary was pregnant.
His response was very natural. He assumed she had been unfaithful, so he prepared to quietly call off the wedding. According to the Law, he could have had Mary stoned. In keeping with Jewish tradition, he was likely much older than Mary. Hence the text calls him “a righteous man.” He may have been in his late twenties and well established in his trade.
It was at this point that an Angel appeared to him in a dream with Divine revelation. Mary was indeed the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:21 records another part of the revelation. He was to be named “Jesus” because He was going to save His people from their sin. The angel effectively communicated the gospel to Joseph.
Joseph then becomes an example of faith. He obeyed the word of the angel and immediately took Mary as his wife and he kept her a virgin until he gave birth to a son, and he gave him the name “Jesus.”
Though not recorded in this text, the naming of Jesus broke tradition just as the naming of John the Baptist. (See Luke 1:57-66) The eldest son should have been named after the father. It was expected for Jesus to be names “Joseph.” This was another act of humility and obedience on behalf of Joseph.
It is very difficult to assign any fault to Joseph in this context. He consistently acted according to the information he had about Mary being pregnant. It took divine intervention to change his mind. Angelic activity surrounded every stage of the life of Jesus.
The Bible becomes silent about Joseph after the brief trip to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve. (Luke 2:41-52) We do know that he was a carpenter and true to form taught his eldest son the family trade.
Most scholars assume Joseph passed away before Jesus became and adult. Jesus waited until age 30 to begin His public ministry. Most belief He became the family provider for His widowed mother and step brothers and sisters.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global