Today I am beginning a short series based on the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus. I love the Christmas season and some part of the Christmas story hits me afresh each year. I am always struck by the variety of people God used to participate in the birth of His son here on earth. One of those people usually impact me in a new way, or perhaps I am able to see the story more from their perspective.
As my children were part of a wonderful Christmas pageant last week, I was inspired to do a small series highlighting what I’ve learned from some of these folks–all ordinary people that God used in an extraordinary way.
Today I will focus on Joseph, the man who became an earthly father to Jesus and husband of Mary. In the pageant I just mentioned, my oldest son Daniel played the part of Joseph. I’m not sure why, but watching my young man portray Joseph really impacted me.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve always seen Joseph as such a man of integrity, which is what I would love all my young men to grow up to be.
Joseph really was an example of integrity. There he was, a young carpenter, engaged to a young lady who suddenly lets him know that she is pregnant. He could have easily been enraged, putting her out of his life and disgracing her in a public way. This would have also gotten Mary stoned, the punishment back in those times. However, even before the angel appeared to him in a dream, he “had in mind to divorce her quietly” because he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace.” Now THAT is a good man, back in those days I’m sure and definitely in today’s world too.
Joseph was also a man of quick obedience.
An angel did appear to him and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel reassured him that the child was conceived in her from the Holy Spirit and that he was to name him Jesus. So, did Joseph mull this over and weigh out the pros and cons for weeks on end? Nope. It says that “When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” No hesitation or ignoring the dream or explaining it away. Joseph also was quick to obey the Lord when, after the visit from the Magi, an angel appears to him yet again and tells him to escape to Egypt with his family. No hesitation there either as he packed up his family during the night and fled King Herod’s wrath.
Also, Joseph had to know that when her pregnancy became noticeable and people found out, he also would be humiliated for taking her as his wife under the circumstances. But the threat of public scorn didn’t stop him.
I also want to note that when we first meet Joseph in Matthew 1:19, he is noted as “a righteous man.” Note–it doesn’t say “self-righteous,” it says “righteous.” There’s a big distinction there. What a fine example he is to us all.
So, to wrap up today’s installation, here is my take-away from studying Joseph: I would like to strive to be a person who is righteous (not self-righteous!), obedient to God, not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, and a person of integrity. I am thankful for Joseph and how God used him in the life of Jesus.
(Note: All of my references today were taken from Matthew 1 & 2, NIV)