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“Engaged to a man named Joseph”

November 30, 2021

Daily Scripture

Luke 1:26-27; Matthew 13:54-55

Luke 1:26-27

26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary.

Matthew 13:54-55

54 When he came to his hometown, he taught the people in their synagogue. They were surprised and said, “Where did he get this wisdom? Where did he get the power to work miracles? 55 Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? Aren’t James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers?

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Luke simply told readers that Mary was “engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house.” We will learn more about Joseph in next week’s GPS from the gospel of Matthew. But we need to know something about Mary’s fiancé to grasp her story. She lived in the tiny village of Nazareth, but the slender evidence in the gospels suggests that Bethlehem was Joseph’s home town (cf. Luke 2:1-4). If so, their families probably arranged the marriage (a fuller study of evidence for that is in Pastor Hamilton’s The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem).

  • In Israelite culture, an engagement was as binding as marriage. Mary was pregnant? People (like Joseph at first) “knew” some other man was to blame. Some later implied that Jesus’ father was unknown (cf. John 8:39-41). Mary might even have been stoned to death (cf. Deuteronomy 22:20-24, John 8:3-5). But Matthew 1:19 said, “Joseph her husband was a righteous man.” He wanted Mary safe even if she’d let him down. How have you learned to face distress in a measured way like Joseph’s?
  • A Bible translators’ handbook said, “‘Carpenter’ may refer to one who builds with wood or stone. Wood is somewhat rare in Palestine, and houses are most frequently constructed with stone.”* Joseph worked with his hands. The scorn in Matthew 13’s story hinted they did not value workers like Joseph very highly. Does our culture properly value “workers” who lack prestige or corner offices? What was it about Joseph that made him “great” by Jesus’ standards (cf. Mark 10:43)?

The Journey: A Season of Reflections

Today’s Insights was chapter 7, “Joseph the Carpenter” from The Journey: A Season of Reflections, by Adam Hamilton. Copyright © 2011 by Abingdon Press, and available on our website for 24 hours by permission of Abingdon Press. If you’d like to buy the entire book of reflections, you can click here for a direct link to the Cokesbury sale page, as well as other Journey resources.


Lord God, when you chose Mary, you also chose Joseph. He could have prayed John Wesley’s covenant prayer (“Let me be full, let me be empty”) as he played his supporting role. Give me his spirit. Amen.

GPS Insights

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Barclay M. Newman and Phillip C. Stine, A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew. New York: United Bible Societies, 1988, p. 444.