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Joseph Who?

Joseph is often forgotten about at Christmas because he simply the husband of Mary and not the father of Jesus.  He was however chosen by God to be the adoptive father of Jesus and he was of the royal line, a potential King.  We never a hear a word spoken by him in the Bible, he is spoken about and spoken to but he never utters a single syllable.  Matthew talks about him in his Gospel but the last we hear of him is when Jesus presented himself at the temple, aged twelve.  Joseph like all Hebrew fathers, would have played a critical role in the early years of Jesus’ life teaching him about God, the patriarchs, the coming salvation of the Jews and the promises of God. 

But who was Joseph?  He was a carpenter, he would therefore have loved the feel of wood and stone.  From the two turtle dove gift of Mary at the temple we can conclude that Joseph was most likely a poor man living a simple ordinary life.  Being a carpenter he was most likely a simple practical man, building something useful and maintaining a good name in the community was probably all he had thought he would become.

He would have looked forward to the raising of family and living a simple life.  However, in one night, with one startling revelation, his life and dreams would be changed forever.  Joseph, like any honorable man of the time, would have been stunned to find out about the pregnancy of his future wife.  Matthew reports in his Gospel that Joseph was considering to put her away quietly, the only practical respectful option that was available to him.  Though we will never know exactly what led him to this decision, it is clear that he still loved Mary and didn’t want to disgrace her.  It is possible that Mary didn’t give him all of the facts about the pregnancy and the visits she had from God’s messengers, but it is just as likely that Mary had given him all the facts and Joseph couldn’t comprehend what she was saying.  Either way Joseph was prepared to give up everything he had dreamed so that the plans of God could be fulfilled in Mary’s life.

That was until he was visited directly by an angel.  From this night forward Joseph’s life was forever changed.  His union to Mary was required so that through him Jesus would have the full legal status that was required.  Joseph at this point instantly obeyed the word of God that was given to him.  The illustration of Joseph is typical of lots of us, caught between what God says and what makes sense.  He chose, however, to obey despite the lack of sense or practicality of it (He would have had to brought the wedding forward, no easy task in his day, no easy task in ours either.)

So why Joseph?  Because he was firstly a carpenter, sturdy, stable and practical, yet sensitive to the voice of God.  Able to stand quietly with the Mary through the ridicule she undoubtedly received.  He was strong, yet compassionate.  Able to lead an expedition to Bethlehem, and able to encourage and strengthen his young bride throughout the long difficult journey.  He, like all Jewish Dads, was the first teacher for Jesus, yet when Jesus revealed his first allegiance to another father he humbly and quietly stepped back while God stepped forward.  Amazingly through all of this he never speaks a word, that we know about, yet what he did speaks volumes to us all.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is free to come to anyone, or any nobody, like Joseph or Mary, you, or me.  The responsibility is on us, just as it was on Joseph, simply to follow Christ obediently with all that we have.  Joseph and Mary could not have known the eternal significance of what their obedience would bring.  They would not have thought that thirty years on their eldest Son would go through such agony as the substitutionary atoning sacrifice for the entire history of the world.  If they had they most likely would have done something else.  However, they chose instead to obediently follow the word of God that they each received.  What are you going to do?  How about, like me, in this time of reflection and new year resolutions, you purpose to listen to and obey God despite the seemingly impractical nature of the obedience.



Turning Point Ministries – Dr David Jeremiah – Why Joseph?

Gospel of Matthew

Categories: Bible
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