THE MAN JESUS CALLED FATHER

We’ve heard about the mother, blessed among women.  How about the one chosen to raise Jesus, teach him a trade, and shape character?

We don’t know if Mary was beautiful. We know she was godly.  Whether or not men gave her a second look, God did—and so did Joseph. When we meet him, he has already made one wise decision—picking a woman God had singled out.

JOSEPH WAS JUST.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:18,19).

Joseph’s second wise choice was to walk in purity with the woman he was preparing to marry.  That explains why the news shocked him. He could have acted abruptly, adding harsh words to action.  He was more deliberate.

JOSEPH WAS OPEN TO GOD

Panic throws off sound judgment. The phrase, “as he considered this” (20a), pictures a man who weighs actions. Joseph was open to change. Explain the pregnancy to friends: “Right, Joe—an angel came to you. With wings?”

“Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit’” (20).  Joseph could have thought, “Easy for you to say.  You don’t have to encounter people with shameful grins.” Joseph wasn’t looking for the easy way out but the right way through.

Joseph showed his son character, hard as silver and soft as an early morning dream. Joseph wasn’t alone in the plan—as he had felt moments ago.  Isaiah had been drawn into the cosmic drama seven centuries before.  “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (23).

What looked like default was design. We can trace the footprints in history. In God’s creativity there is continuity. And Joseph signed on.

JOSEPH WAS FIRM AND FLEXIBLE.

It’s hard to be both.  Those strong on truth are often weak on grace. Mathew writes that when he “awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took his wife…” (24).

Sometimes fathers need to say, “Do as you are told.”  Joseph did just that.  He didn’t second-guess (“What God really means…).  He obeyed. God found a servant, not only willing to fit into God’s strategy but who refrained from doing what he had every right to do as the husband: “He knew her not until she had born a son” (25).  That would mean a wait of two hundred or more days.

Joseph did what he could—teach his boy carpentry and character. And Jesus would have his father to thank—and His Father!

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