His People: Joseph
“Because of love, God trusted a brave young woman and an honest, hardworking carpenter with the precious gift of his Son.” (p.108, Women of Christmas, Higgs)
“And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.” – Matthew 1:16
The Nativity is a lovely little movie, and it does a really wonderful job fleshing out Joseph. Oscar Isaac (who plays Joseph) displays the complexity, kindness, and devotion of this man in a beautiful way.
I ponder this gentle, righteous, and obedient man. His actions fulfill prophecy! He walks with dignity and serves God with his whole heart. He is quick to follow the Lord’s prompting. He is a minor character, so it seems, but his actions speak volumes of who he serves.
I cannot imagine being Mary, a young woman in her early teens, expecting a child and never knowing the touch of a man. The weight of enormity must have been crushing. How was she to convince her parents, much less the man she was betrothed too? Would Joseph seek to have her killed?
Mary need not fear. A testament to the man he was, Joseph does not lose his cool after discovering Mary’s condition. Heartbroken, he took time to think on the things he had learned and decide what was best:
“Joseph, because he was kind and upstanding and honorable, wanted to spare Mary shame. He did not wish to cause her more embarrassment than necessary.”
Matthew 1:19 (The Voice)
A messenger of the Lord came to intercede and Joseph believed what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah.
“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].” – Isaiah 7:14 (AMP)
“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save people from their sins.” – Matthew 1: 20-21 (NKJV)
Joseph immediately believes what the messenger tells him in his dream, and he obeys.
I believe what God asks of me. I believe the validity and undeniable truth of the Sovereign Word of God. Yet, I do not always obey. I hem and haw. I dig my heels in. I grasp tightly to those things that are temporal. I am stubborn, obstinate, and hard headed. I have a tender heart, which I have allowed the world to bruise and harden over the years.
To simply believe and obey the Lord as Joseph did…
Jesus, My Savior, you are good. You are faithful. Your hand of providence holds me in this moment to do Your divine will. Lord, may I drink my cup be it sorrow, happiness, suffering, or joy and not another’s. Let me not hesitate to do what you ask of me. Clothe me in the fruits of the spirit: love (that is ever extended), joy (outside of my circumstances), peace (that is rooted in You), longsuffering (a lamp to light the weary long road), kindness (to all fellowmen), goodness (let me seek to better, always), faithfulness (to fall into the black trusting Your hands will catch me), gentleness (give me soft-edges), and self-control (to protect my heart). Allow me to be as Joseph, a willing participant in what you have for me.
I do not envisage Joseph could have imagined his story would be told and re-told well into the 21st century. He, a man of gentle heart and faithful spirit, would have simply lived for the Lord on a daily basis. He would have raised Jesus to the best of his ability. He would have shared his wisdom and his trade with Him. I can imagine that the scope of Jesus being fully God would have been difficult. Joseph feasibly toiled with how to raise the Son of God.
Yet, God uses this man on three separate occasions to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy.
The first, when he believes the messenger of the Lord on Mary’s holy conception, that Jesus is the Christ.
“Joseph woke up from his dream and did exactly what the messenger had told him to do: he married Mary and brought her into his home as his wife (though he did not consummate their marriage until after her son was born). And when the baby was born, Joseph named Him Jesus, Savior.” – Matthew 1: 24-25 (The Voice)
The second, when he obeyed the messenger of the Lord yet again, and fled to Egypt away from Herod’s tyranny:
Messenger of the Lord (to Joseph): “Get up, take the child and His mother, and head to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you it is safe to leave. For Herod understands that Jesus threatens him and all he stands for. He is planning to search for the child and kill Him. But you will be safe in Egypt.
So Joseph got up in the middle of the night; he bundled up Mary and Jesus, and they left for Egypt.
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt until Herod died. This fulfilled yet another prophecy. The prophet Hosea (11:1) once wrote, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
- Matthew 2: 13-15 (The Voice)
The third is when he is heading back to the land of Israel after the death of Herod. After discovering that Archelaus, Herod’s oldest, is ruling, he travels to Nazareth instead. A messenger of the Lord had told Joseph that it was alright to go home (v. 20). After Joseph realizes Archelaus is in rule, I cannot be certain, but I can speculate that he prayed for guidance. He bent his knee and asked the Lord what was best. And, a messenger of the Lord comes to warn him away from Judea. So, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus settle in Nazareth.
Was this not the will of God all along? That Jesus would be a Nazarene?
“He had another dream, and in this dream, he was warned away from Judea; so Joseph decided to settle up north in a district called Galilee, in a town called Nazareth. And this, too, fulfilled what the prophets have taught, “The Savior will be a Nazarene.” – Matthew 2: 22b – 23 (The Voice)
[Nazarene means, “tender, green, or living branch.” Jesus is the living Branch, the branch of David that extends the reach of the tree of Israel eventually to foreigners and outsiders. – The Voice, commentary, P. 1153]
The stunning truth is our sweet Lord leads us in steps. If we knew the whole instead of the part we could not contain it. Our hearts would fail and our minds would madden. So, He tenderly moves us, as we walk in obedience with Him, to our resting places where He uses us to bring about His will. All we have to be is willing.