This article is a repeat (and updated) post that oddly gets hits throughout the year. If you do men’s ministry or lead a men’s devotional or class, feel free to use this.
Let’s talk about the guy who probably is not the most popular figure in the manger scene. The most overlooked, yet quite crucial person in the Christmas story is the earthly father of Jesus—Joseph. . . . Think about that. Can you imagine being chosen to raise God’s only Son?
I want to propose here that our awareness, as well our respect level, of Joseph should go way up.
First, let’s look at the great risk that God took here. He had already created the world and handed over stewardship of it all to a man—Adam. . . . How well did that go? So now, He’s going to turn over the watchcare of His plan for redemption of mankind to what? A man. To whom? Joseph. Yet another amazing turn in God’s pursuit of His creation. That has to say something of Joseph’s character that God would trust him to this level.
This all begins when Joseph’s fiancée comes to him and says an angel has appeared to her and that God has impregnated her with His Son, that, by the way, is going to be the Savior of the world. . . . . Let me just let that one sink in for a second. . . . Is that not one of the craziest excuses for an affair pregnancy that you’ve ever heard? In Matthew 1:19, he thinks to divorce her quietly (required of a betrothal in that day), so as not to expose her to public disgrace. Joseph put Mary first. He loved Mary, even at his darkest moment. He was a man of character and integrity and compassion. This response is exactly what God knew Joseph would do, because He had been watching and testing Joseph all his life—for this moment. (Let’s not miss that point either.)
Have you ever thought that God’s choice of parents for His Son had just as much to do with Joseph as Mary? . . . But wait. It gets better. Joseph has a dream where an angel confirms Mary’s story and tells him to name the boy Jesus. So Joseph immediately marries Mary. . . . But it gets better still. He does not have sex with his wife until she gives birth. There is nothing in this passage where the angel tells Joseph to not have sex with his wife; in fact, the angel says to take her home with him. Joseph made a choice out of respect to God’s plan. He wanted to stay out of God’s way, while staying in God’s will. (Matthew 1:20-25)
So, God gives Joseph the responsibility of raising His Son. Raising a kid has always been expensive. How does He help Joseph with this? How does God provide for Joseph’s new family? Well, you know that gold, frankincense, and myrrh we sing about that the Magi brought when Christ was a toddler? (Always remember, God is very practical, while being mystical.) What we focus on as elaborate gifts that some wealthy astronomers brought as worship offerings, God used as manna to finance the raising of His son. Those items would have been a nice income for many years back in that day. God provided and honored Joseph’s amazing trust by taking care of Joseph’s family. Matthew 6:33 comes to mind . . . Seek first the Kingdom and all these things will be added to you.
So, let’s take home a few challenges and inspirations from a look at Joseph’s life—this over-looked man at Christmastime.
1—Though a life of integrity takes years to build, God always honors and rewards the man who keeps that focus.
2—Sacrificial love involves sacrificing self. Joseph loved Mary. God loves it when guys love their wives.
3—A man after God’s heart works to stay out of His way, while staying in His will.
4—Obedience to God is invisible faith put in visible action. Joseph heard and took action every time.
5—God will provide for what He promises.
As you prepare to celebrate Christmas, let’s take our hats off to Joseph as one of the greatest, yet most ignored men in Scripture—a man we can all learn much from in how to follow our Savior in obedience.