“When Joseph woke up,
he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took Mary home as his wife.
But he had no union with her
until she gave birth to a son.
And he gave him the name Jesus.”
Matthew 1:24-25 NIV
Joseph doesn’t get a lot of billing. Let me just say that after thinking about Joseph, he is now my hero in the Christmas story! Of course, God is front and center but Joseph was a man of great character. He had every reason to run the opposite direction, throw his hands up in despair, and wash his hands of this unbelievable scenario. But he didn’t! That’s why Joseph is my hero.
Coincidently, my husband’s name is also Joseph. Like Joseph there have been many times in our marriage that I’m sure he wanted to run the opposite direction, throw his hands up in despair, and wash his hands of life’s messes. But he didn’t! Honey, you are also my hero! The fact is life is hard, there are surprises and unfair situations often seem to reign. Disappointments continue to fill our years, people disappoint us, and things do not turn out as we had hoped. Like Joseph, our personal formula for survival must be the same as his. We must trust God unconditionally and we must learn to deal with what we find on our plate, no matter how hard it is to swallow.
Christmas is the time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and reflect on all of the events that surrounded his birth. This Christmas season I am endeavoring to learn how Joseph dealt with the events that surrounded the birth of his stepson, Jesus Christ. In the book of Matthew we read how Joseph dealt with Christmas.
Joseph loved Mary. In fact they were engaged. I wonder, what emotions flooded Joseph’s mind when Mary announced to Joseph, that she was carrying a child? This child who, believe it or not, was not his, but was a child, who she proclaimed to be the son of God. I wonder, what was the greatest hurdle Joseph had to overcome? I’m sure his mind was filled with thoughts of anger, unbelief, embarrassment, disappointment, and betrayal. Did he dare believe Mary's outlandish story that proclaimed the baby she was carrying was the Son of God? All logic screamed impossible! Then there was the problem of what he should do with Mary. It was perfectly in line with the law to have her stoned to death. What would he do? The Bible tells us that because Joseph was a good man he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to public disgrace.
God is good all the time, even when things are crumbling all around us. God in his love and mercy sent an angel of the Lord, who appeared to Joseph in a dream. His instructions were very clear and he did not leave out a single detail. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” Matthew 1:24-25 NIV I’m sure Joseph was grateful for God’s confirmation of truth but still in his humanness he must have had some concerns. God had instructed him not to have any union with her until she gave birth. This would require a great deal of self-control. Furthermore, Joseph was to give the baby the name Jesus, not the customary name of the father. Hummmmm – that was bound to raise a few eyebrows. Perhaps Joseph had questions and even a few hours of sleepless hesitation, but still he obeyed God on all matters. In shear blind faith and total obedience Joseph dealt with Christmas and that is why he is my hero in this story!
That first message from heaven was not the end of Joseph’s problems. As we say, “when it rains it pours”! His next problem was the decree from Caesar Augustus which stated that all of the
Roman Empire should be
taxed. Everyone was required to go to his own town to register. For Joseph this
meant a long trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the town of , which was about seventy miles as the
crow flies. Since his car was in the shop he would have to walk. Taking his
pregnant wife, who was due any day, was an added problem. Some way some how,
Joseph believed that God would provide and he did. God provided a donkey for
Mary to ride on. Not too cushy if you ask me, but at least she didn’t have to
walk. So Joseph, the bread winner, began to do all he could as the bills
started rolling in. Even though Joseph was stressed to the limit, he still
dealt with Christmas. Again, for me, he is the hero in this story. Unknown to Joseph,
prophecy was being fulfilled because it was prophesied that the Messiah would
be born in David .
“But you, Bethlehem Bethlehem
Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over , whose
origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2 Israel
When Joseph arrived in
the search for a place for Mary to rest was at the top of his list.
Needless to say, Mary's contractions had begun and to add to this dilemma all he could
hear from one innkeeper after another was “no room”. How exasperating! What was
he to do? Still he persisted. He dealt with Christmas. Finally, God once again
provided, of all places, a stable. Joseph must have been both disappointed and
thankful at the same time. I’m sure Joseph was tired, his feet and back must
have been aching from the long journey and his eyes longed for sleep. But it
was only the beginning. The night was young. He only had a few more things to
do and sleep was not one of them. He needed to rustle up some food, deliver a
baby, entertain shepherds, and find some time to hold his precious new son. Not
a son of blood but a son of love. Yes, Joseph my hero did an excellent job of
dealing with Christmas! Bethlehem
After returning to
there was still one more major problem to deal with. More company, three
wise men from the east came to worship Jesus. They came with gifts of gold,
frankincense, and myrrh. Joseph was a busy man. There was so much to do and so
little time to do it. Orders were piling up in the carpenter shop and now this.
When was a man supposed to do any work? But still this father dealt with
Christmas and all the events that surrounded the birth of this child. He set
aside his agenda and welcomed the visitors from the east. Nazareth
Unexpected company was only the beginning. That night one very tired Joseph was trying to get some much needed sleep. Once again, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up, he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to
. Stay there until I tell you,
for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:13 Talk
about a nightmare! Get up now! Escape! Herod was trying to kill Jesus! Fear was
front and center. How could he move and relocate in the middle of the night? No
good-byes, what would the family think? What would Mary say? God, are you
crazy? Questions and more questions, but once again, Joseph dealt with
Christmas. He obeyed. Egypt
Obedience seemed to be Joseph’s strong suite. This may have been why God hand picked him for the job. What a guy! Certainly, he was a real life hero. Joseph was a loving, protective husband, who obeyed God. “So he (Joseph) got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for
where he stayed until the death of Herod.” Matthew 2:14-15a Reading on in
Matthew we learn that Joseph was a major player in God’s plan. “And so it was fulfilled what the Lord had
said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew
2:15b (this prophecy found in Hosea
God has a plan for each of our lives. We must trust him with all that concerns us. God always goes before us and prepares the way. The lesson I have learned from Joseph today is that I must always be obedient no matter what my emotions are saying, regardless of many unanswered questions I must always believe that God goes before me, and in spite of what seems to me to be illogical. I must know that God’s ways are not man’s ways and I must choose to trust him.
Why do we ever doubt that God is in control? Even in the thunderstorms of adversity, God is perfectly in control as he accomplishing his purpose in our lives. More importantly, he will continue to use people, position, events, decrees, wars, and circumstances to fulfill prophecy until JESUS returns again to this earth!
- What impresses you the most about Joseph?
- Does Joseph’s life speak to you regarding your reluctant responses to God?
- Do you see that just like Joseph, all of us must deal with life by trusting God and obeying all that he tells us to do?
- Is there something that God is asking you to do but you haven’t obeyed?
- What is keeping you from obeying?
- Do you believe that God can be trusted?
I love this story of Joseph. I love that he was a simple carpenter who trusted you even when he was filled with doubts and fears. His obedience did not depend upon how he felt, what he understood, or if he had enough sleep. I love Joseph because he was not a procrastinator. God, I thank you for this Biblical example of simple obedience. Father, forgive me when I procrastinate regarding your assignments. Forgive me when I chose to disobey your instructions and ignore your message. I pray that in the days ahead you will fill me with so much love for you that I can do nothing less than trust you completely as I step out in blind faith with a will that longs to be simply obedient.
In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen