As Joel and I approach four months of marriage, I am more grateful than ever to be married to this man. God's design of marriage is a beautiful thing. So I'm not sure why it surprised me--but it did--to think about Joseph and Mary's marriage and to wonder, "Why did they get married in the first place?"
God didn't use the normal setting of marriage to produce a baby--instead, He miraculously caused a virgin to conceive a child. So Mary was pregnant with the Son of God and Joseph was betrothed to Mary, but he was neither her husband nor her baby's father. In fact, if Joseph was never born in some It's-a-Wonderful-Life alternate universe, Jesus would still have been born as the long-awaited Messiah. If Joseph was never born, God's salvation plan for the world would have continued. If Joseph was never born, Mary would have still been required to travel to Bethlehem, since this was also her ancestral town. If Joseph was never born, Mary very well could have raised Jesus as a single mother in her father's house.
But Joseph was born--and God did include him in the Christmas story for crucial reasons.
From the very beginning of time, God created family. He designed marriage and defined it as the union of one man and one woman; He designed children to be born from that union and raised by a mother and a father. This beautiful unit of the family--the "building block of society"--provides a haven of love, stability, and growth, but it also brings glory to God as it pictures the marriage of Christ and the Church and the Father-child relationship between God and us.
So yes, Jesus very well could have been born into a single-parent home. After all, God is His Father. But Jesus was miraculously born into a two-parent home, through a series of events so perfectly orchestrated and timed, that only God could have brought them to pass. Far be it from me to sum up the magnitude of God's purposes for Joseph, but I marvel at the importance of his role as simply husband and father. Far from being an add-on to the Christmas story, Joseph is a wondrous emphasis on the importance of the family--the man God chose to complete Jesus' earthly family and to illustrate a picture of marriage and fatherhood to the world for the glory of God.
Photo Credit. Used by permission.