Saturday, January 10, 2009

Someone else has been with her ... (Matt. 1)

In Shakespeare's day, after a performance of the play Richard II, the lead actor scrubbed off his makeup and hurried on over to the home of an available young woman. As he pounded on the door, an upstairs window opened. The playwright looked down and said, "William the Conqueror came before Richard II!"

A guy I know was once infatuated with a young lady of suspect virtue. Then, one memorable night, he learned that this lady had, shall we say, "a history." Including with the guy he was rooming with.

It can be stunning to learn that things are not symmetrical with the object of one's chaste and all-consuming desire. To learn that she may be your first, but you are number 1 ... n in her list!

Imagine the cauldron of emotional upheaval that buffeted Yusuf when Meryem came home after a visit with her cousin Elizabeth -- and was six months pregnant. Matt. 1:19 describes the man's true nobility:
Meryem'in nişanlısı Yusu, doğru bir adam olduğu ve onu herkesin önünde utandırmak istemediği için ondan gizlice ayrılmak niyetindeydi.
A few words to revıew:
  • nişanlısı -- betrothed
  • doğru -- righteous. straight. true.
  • herkesin -- everybody
  • utandırmak -- to put to shame
  • gizlice -- secretly
Yusuf would have been well within his rights to have denounced Meryem as a loose woman. There's a cynical old American saying, "The first baby can come any time; the rest all take nine months." Even in first-century Palestine, people could count to nine. Yusuf knew that marrying Meryem would expose him to a life time of humiliation, of people quietly chuckling and nudging each other as he walked past them. In addition to this was the stunning, horrifying certainty that ladies do not get pregnant on their own; obviously, at least one other person had been with her. Still, he was willing to engage in a sham marriage, and a discrete divorce, in order to shield the baby from the stigma of bastardy, and Meryem from the strictures of justice.

It was after Yusuf decided to do the kind thing that supernatural encouragement came his way. His sterling character shines forth, however, since he made the decision to subordinate his own reputation, and his own outraged feelings, to the welfare of Meryem and the babe she carried.

(For the record, Christians do not believe that God had carnal relations with Meryem. Like Muslims, we believe that Jesus was conceived by a miracle, and Meryem's virginity was not impaired.)

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