Joseph; December 24, 2020

Matthew 1:24-25 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.

He appears in manger scenes, but Joseph is relatively absent in most people’s image of Christmas. That’s unfortunate, because he is a tremendous example of faith and obedience toward God. The very idea of your fiancee turning up pregnant, when you know you aren’t the father, is a scenario we might be able to imagine but certainly wouldn’t respond to the way Joseph did. He was doubtless shocked and hurt, and any explanation Mary might have tried to give would have made no sense at all. Even so, verse 19 records that he wanted to end the relationship as quietly as possible, which was incredibly kind and gracious of him. Then, just from a dream, he changes his mind and takes Mary home with him. We don’t know what friends he might have consulted with, but surely his initial response to the news of the pregnancy would have let people know he wasn’t the father. That meant it was a shameful thing for him to accept her as his wife anyway. I’ve heard of cases where a wife was raped by a stranger and her husband accepted the child, but they are certainly few and far between. I also know of cases where the husband was playing around and the wife had an affair in retaliation, and the husband accepted the child since he probably had other children as well, but that’s the very definition of a dysfunctional family. This was different. Joseph was an absolute straight arrow, and as it turned out, Mary was too. The level of faith and obedience to God in each of them is something we all should aspire to.

I’ve had tests of faith, but never of this kind. Whether I would have had the physical or moral courage to do as Joseph did is something I will never know. However, I do know that Joseph was very sensitive to God, hearing from Him in his dreams, which we see not only here but also in 2:13 and 2:19-20. God has never used that particular method to speak to me, but I do hear Him regularly and often, and I want to do so more and more. I don’t want to “figure out things to do for God,” I want to do exactly what He wants me to do, whether it is something I would have chosen to do myself or not. To this point He has very graciously given me advance inclination to do the things He had prepared for me, (Ephesians 2:10) but I am to set no conditions on my obedience. We know nothing of Joseph after Jesus’ bar mitzvah, (recorded in Luke 2:41-50) and I’m to set no conditions on how I will allow God to use me. My task is simply to listen and obey.

Father, thank You for the magnificent example of Joseph, Help me too be faithful and obedient, fulfilling Your purposes for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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