I would like to begin this blog with a disclaimer: I am a HOPELESS romantic. I read entirely too many romance novels in my early adult life and therefore my idea of life and love may be terribly skewed. My poor husband. Good thing he’s a bit of a romantic himself or else he’d be in trouble! ha!! So anyway, forgive me if I tend to add a bit of romance/love to the mix but I can’t hardly help it.
Okay, let me make one thing clear first. This is my speculation according to what I’ve read, what the Bible says, and what I believe. It’s not that I think that scripture doesn’t say enough…on the contrary. Scripture tells us everything we need to know. But I also think that the Scriptures were meant to be dug into and so if we can put flesh on these people’s bones and give them some humanity, they really seem to come alive off the pages. (Incidentally, Beth Moore is really good at that – if you’ve never read any of her books, I would highly recommend her.)
Now, it is assumed that Mary was probably around 12 or 13 years old because during that time in history, that was about the age that young women would be betrothed to be married. Being betrothed was sort of like being engaged, only it was as binding as actually being married. During this time, the bride would continue to stay with her family while the bridegroom built a home for her, which was often an addition onto his family’s home. Now in the movie my son and I watched the other night, it depicted Mary as not wanting to marry Joseph…that her dad betrothed her to Joseph because of financial necessity. I’m not sure I really agree with that. See, I remember how I was at 13 and boys were the bees knees. That would have been about the time the “do you love me? check yes or no” notes would start going around the classroom and the girls would be writing their new “married” names on the pages of their notebooks. Although Mary would have been considered almost a woman at 13, she was still 13 and I can’t help but think that she could have had starry-eyed dreams of love.
And Joseph. I’m willing to bet that his betrothal to Mary wasn’t at all about finances. I believe with all my heart that Joseph loved Mary and wanted her to be his wife. (Parents would usually arranged marriages then, but it wasn’t uncommon for the young man to suggest a bride.) And anyhow, I just can’t imagine God bringing two people together who would bring the Messiah into the world, have them marry and not have any love for each other. I couldn’t find where it said specifically how long they’d been betrothed, but betrothals usually lasted for about year. So, Mary and Joseph at this point could have been “a couple” for several months, and living in the same village, could have known each other for a while before the betrothal. The Bible tells us in Luke that after the angel tells Mary of the Child she will bear, that she left pretty quickly…maybe the very next day?…and went to see Elizabeth and was there for about three months. Now you know the old saying – “absence makes the heart grow fonder” – so I can imagine for every brick laid in the home he was building for Mary, that Joseph’s anticipation of her return grew. What would she think of the house I built? Would she like it? Does she miss me? Has her love for me grown cold in this time she’s been gone? And I wonder too about Mary. What could she have been thinking? Will Joseph believe me when I tell him about the angel? Will he still want to be my husband? Will he still love me? Will he think I’m fat in this dress? Okay, well maybe not that last bit.
So in all his anticipation of Mary’s return, can you imagine how heartbroken Joseph would have been when faced with the reality that she was pregnant and the child certainly wasn’t his? I would guess his emotions were running rampant…anger that she would betray him, humiliation at possibly having thought that she loved him, anguish that she would so flippantly toss his love aside for another. He may have even been disgusted when she told him the story of the angel and wondered to himself if she thought he was that much of a fool to believe such a story. The Bible says Joseph wasn’t willing to disgrace her publicly, that he would just divorce her quietly – that is until the angel of the Lord came for a visit (Matt. 1:19-25). Can you imagine Joseph’s relief when the angel told him that everything Mary said was true? That she really hadn’t been unfaithful? That she hadn’t given her heart to another? And then can you imagine the knot in his stomach when he realized that she’d been telling the truth…and he hadn’t believed her. I’ll bet he couldn’t get his yarmulke on fast enough. I can imagine him in an all out sprint to her house, pounding on the door, calling her name. And when she appeared at the door, I can hear him rambling, out of breath, about the angel in his dream, asking for Mary’s forgiveness for not having believed her and praying to himself that she’d still agree to be his wife. Can you feel the energy between the two of them as they realize that God had ordained this marriage, that God had an amazing purpose for them? I like to think that at that moment, their hearts were bound together as one. At that moment, the two individuals became one unit as they embarked on the journey of a lifetime.