Jesus understands everything about being human because He experienced it, including feeling the effects of the rumor mill. He understands how people talk, and how no matter what you say, people are going to believe what they want to believe.
To start with, Jesus was born under a cloud of confusion and uncertainty — a cloud that — most likely in some people’s minds — never went away. It was nothing short of a scandal. Betrothal was as good as marriage, but still, the knot had not been tied, so if Mary was with child and Joseph knew it wasn’t his, she would have to be “divorced” even though they weren’t married yet. That was his plan, to put her away quietly and away from the public eye, but to divorce her nonetheless. I mean, it was not that hard to figure out. The baby was either Joseph’s or some other man’s; in either case the child would have been a bastard child because they were not married.
“Mary, oh Mary, how can this be true?
How can I believe the words you’re saying?
I’ve kept you a virgin and now you are with child;
How can I be sure you are not lying?”
“Joseph, oh Joseph, I’ve loved no other man,
And I serve only one God, Jehovah.
Please know I am not deceiving you;
I am only believing in His promise.
The Spirit of God has overcome me
And I will bear His child,
And I shall call His name, Jesus
For He’ll save His people from sin.”
“Mary, my beloved, come walk with me a while,
I have something to share with you this morning.
An angel of God has appeared unto me
And this is the greeting that He gave me:
‘The Spirit of God has come upon her
And she will bear His child.
And you shall call His name Jesus
For He’ll save His people from sin.’”
From the song “Mary and Joseph” by Pam Mark Hall *
So Joseph, too, received a visitation from the angel, and this gave him the courage to take Mary to be his wife and to believe that the child was indeed from God. But here’s the catch: The angel didn’t appear to everybody. So everybody else was where Joseph was at before his own visitation. You can’t expect them to all believe. You can’t dispel the rumors. And as for us, we’ve got the scriptures, the gospel accounts of angelic appearances, and the prophesies. But all the neighbors and friends … they only had the word of Mary and Joseph against their own doubts and rumors. It is safe to assume that not everyone believed them, and the rumors most likely persisted throughout the life of Christ. Like I said: The angel didn’t appear to everybody.
Suddenly, the humility of Christ takes on deeper implications. It’s not just humility, it’s humiliation. It undoubtedly included being called names as a child. Human nature is that way, and kids can be cruel. When Jesus was mocked and jeered at during His trial and crucifixion, it was not the first time. He was used to it. There was always a cloud around who He really was.
Everybody doesn’t always get an explanation. Faith can be a lonely road sometimes. This is true for us as well. If it’s true for you, know that you are not alone; Jesus — “bastard child” — walks with you.
* Look for how you can purchase this song as well as all the songs newly remastered from the albums “Naphtali” and “Inside.”