“Good News of Great Joy,” Day 9: Bearing Our Guilt and Shame

December 8, 2015

booklet_coverI recently created a 26-day Advent devotional booklet for my church called “Good News of Great Joy.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and Christmas day. Enjoy!

Scripture: Matthew 1:19

What does it mean when Matthew tells us that Joseph, “being a righteous man and unwilling to expose [Mary] to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.”

I understand that Joseph wanted to spare Mary both her life and public humiliation, but how would annulling his marriage help with this? Even if he “dismissed her quietly,” the conspicuous fact that Mary was pregnant would become more and more apparent. And someone was the father! Wouldn’t people put two and two together and assume that Mary slept with someone else, and that Joseph, in his justifiable anger and hurt, divorced her for this reason?

Not according to Adam Hamilton in his book The Journey. By keeping quiet about the reasons for the divorce, people would assume that Joseph himself had sex with Mary. By divorcing her and letting people believe that he was the father, Joseph would bear the shame, not Mary. Meanwhile, by divorcing Mary, Joseph believed he was giving the “real” father the chance to do the right thing and take Mary as his wife.

So out of great compassion, Joseph was willing to let people think that he was the irresponsible jerk. He was willing to bear the shame and guilt of someone else’s sin for the sake of his love for them.

Who does that remind you of?

Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all of your sins—past, present, and future—on the cross. Whenever we confess and repent of our sins, we can be confident that God will forgive us. As John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:19). Spend time confessing and repenting of your sins. As you do so, be confident that God has forgiven you!

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