“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” Matthew 1:19
Joseph was a man who followed the commands of God. He knew the law and he obeyed the law. He would have known that the punishment for a woman caught in adultery was to be stoned to death. It would not have been wrong for him to demand this sentence to be executed upon Mary. But it was not in his heart to do that. And once he received God’s instruction through a dream, he knew what he needed to do and he did it.
Although I cannot tell for certain, it appears that Joseph did not take Mary to him as his wife until she was already more than 3 months pregnant. People being the same then as now, they were certainly doing the math when the baby was born. All appearances were that Joseph had acted improperly during their betrothal. This just man appeared, in the eyes of others, to be most unjust.
What better man to be the earthly father of Jesus than one who loved and obeyed the law, but also valued mercy; one who himself, very probably, had borne reproach for his obedience to God.
How I thank God for the men and women he has placed in my life who model the love and mercy of God, and who believe in holiness and obedience to God even when it brings the displeasure or disapproval of man. And I pray that He will make me one of these people as well, who faithfully imitates Christ in my following of Him.