There is one figure that tends to be undervalued and overlooked in the Nativity, yet is crucial to the story. Jesus had an earthly father—Joseph. Imagine for a moment being chosen to raise God’s only Son.
The story begins when his fiancée comes to him saying an angel has appeared to her and that God has spiritually impregnated her with His Son, Who, by the way, is going to be the Savior of the world. Let that idea just 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, Scripture states Joseph thinks to divorce her quietly (required of a betrothal in that day), so as not to expose her to public disgrace. Even amidst great doubt and question, Joseph put Mary first. He loved her, even at his darkest moment. God had taken great care to choose a man of character for His Son. He had been watching and testing Joseph all his life—for this moment.
We must consider that God’s choice of parents for His Son had just as much to do with Joseph as Mary. But wait. The story 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 the story gets better still.
Joseph does not have sex with his wife prior to her giving birth. There is nothing in this passage where the angel tells Joseph to abstain; 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 His will. (Matthew 1:20-25)
So, God gives Joseph the responsibility of raising His Son. Raising a child has always been expensive, so how does He help Joseph provide for his 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 his family. (Matthew 6:33)
So, let’s glean a few challenges and inspirations from a look at Joseph’s life—this over-looked man at the manger.
1—Though a life of integrity takes years to build, God always honors and rewards the man who maintains that focus.
2—Sacrificial love involves dying to self. Joseph loved Mary. God loves it when guys unconditionally 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 God spoke to Him.
5—God will provide to a man for what He promises a man.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, let’s salute Joseph as one of the greatest, yet most overlooked men in Scripture—a man we can all learn much from in how to follow our Savior in obedience.