Joseph deserves more credit. I tend to be one of those people that skim over Joseph and continue on to the part about heavenly hosts and shepherds. Sure, I know he’s there and he does what God says and all that, but really, he doesn’t play that much of a part, right?
Over the past month leading up to Christmas, I’ve been reading all the different tellings of the Christmas story in my Bible, preparing my heart for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Over and over, I’ve noticed something I’ve never really noticed before. Joseph is one of the most incredible examples of faith, trust, and belief in the Bible.
Let’s start at the beginning. In Matthew, it begins the story with Mary being found to be with child from the Holy Spirit, so Joseph prepares to divorce her in secret. However, an angel of the Lord comes to him in a dream and tells Joseph the baby is from the Holy Spirit and to marry Mary and name the baby Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of weird dreams. Generally, I wake up and forget whatever was in the dream because it was weird and not worth remembering. Maybe an angel of the Lord appearing would be worth remembering, but I don’t see myself putting much stock in a dream. Even the name; I’m such a sinful human that I would have bucked up and rebelled at that part. Name him Jesus?? No thanks, I prefer Bill or George. That’s not Joseph though. It says a couple verses later: “When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus.” Joseph heard what the angel had to say, believed, and obeyed.
Later in the story, much later after the birth of Jesus, the wise men come along to worship the child. They make the mistake of going to King Herod about the star that declares the King of the Jews has been born. Herod secretly makes plans to murder the child for fear of being replaced as king. Again, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.” Here again, besides the fact that it’s all in a dream, the angel’s command is very drastic. An unplanned move to Egypt with no timetable must have been a difficult task. “Stay there until I tell you” could mean days, months, or many years. What does Joseph do? “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt.” Again, Joseph listened to the angel, believed that what he said was true, and obeyed to the very letter.
Through the obedience of Joseph, God gives us a beautiful look at belief and trust. I can’t imagine how incredibly unbelievable it must have seemed, that God’s plan to save mankind was through a little bump in his mother’s womb. But Joseph believed, and through his belief, became a part of the most incredible story known to mankind.
God’s plan seems a little bit crazy sometimes. The idea that the savior of the world was once the size of a small watermelon seems a little ridiculous, not to mention humiliating for the God who created the universe. But Jesus came, he was born, and he died. For me, for you, for every man, woman, boy and girl. He reached down from the cross and he pulled me up out of my nasty pit of sin, he washed me off, and he invited me to be His child. Am I worthy of His love? Absolutely not. But God doesn’t look at me through sin. He looks at me through the perfect blood of Jesus Christ and sees me without sin, as beautiful and unblemished. God’s plan for saving the world could be called crazy, but the fact that he loves me and wants to spend eternity with me is even crazier. We need to have the same response as Joseph when faced with the idea that God wants to save me: believe that we’re horrible sinners and accept that through the love, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we can receive eternal life. May we all practice the belief and obedience of Joseph and the love of Jesus Christ this Christmas season.
Thoughts on the Christmas Story and Joseph’s role in showing us faith and obedience- Meg Hoffmann