Good Friday morning ...

Joseph is sometimes called the "forgotten man of the Christmas story."

He tends to get lost in the story because of Mary, Jesus, the angels, the shepherds, the magi, and so many others. But Joseph is a very important character in the Christmas story. He carries out his role so well that he brings a beautiful harmony to the entire narrative.

Leonard Bernstein, the famous conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, was once asked which instrument was the most difficult to play. He immediately replied, "The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play second fiddle with enthusiasm --- that's a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony."

To me, Joseph plays the role of second fiddle in the Christmas story ... and he does it, perhaps not with enthusiasm, but with determination. He does it well.

After Mary had been visited by the angel and was told that she had found favor with God and that she was with child by the Holy Spirit, she returned to Nazareth and it was there that she began to show her pregnancy. Joseph must have been crushed. His beloved Mary --- pregnant! By whom had she become pregnant? must have been ringing through his mind. Of course, Mary knew that she was "with child from the Holy Spirit." But as much as she tried to explain it to Joseph, he just could not understand. And truly, how could he?

Everything we learn about Joseph tells us that he was a devout man of God. Just as Mary loved God, so did Joseph. He must have had a wholehearted relationship with God. So, "being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, he resolved to divorce her quietly." He knew this child was not his. He did not know whose child it was. But he did not want Mary to be disgraced. Even though he could have taken her to court and profited by divorcing her publicly or could have insisted that his dowry be returned to him, instead he resolved to divorce her quietly. This is justice tempered with mercy.

We could not blame Joseph it he felt taken advantage of or used or forgotten. After all, Mary claimed to have seen an angel. She claimed that she was with child by the Holy Spirit, whatever that meant. And she claimed that her cousin Elizabeth was also pregnant in her old age after her husband, Zechariah, had been told it would happen.

But there is no record of Joseph complaining at all. In fact, Matthew records that "as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.'" [Matthew 1:20-21].

God never forgot Joseph. As Joseph continued to demonstrate righteousness and complete devotion to God, now was the time for God to reveal to him the part that he was going to play in the life of His Son, Jesus. God affirmed that Mary was indeed pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and that she would bear a son, whose name would be Jesus."

Joseph had continued to love, serve and worship God and God remembered him and chose him to be the earthly father of Jesus. Joseph, the quiet but strong carpenter, would be the guiding hand that would equip and prepare the Son of God for His earthly ministry. Joseph's faithful service to God was not forgotten.

So, Joseph, the forgotten man of the Christmas story, became second fiddle and also a wonderful example of trusting the Lord in every circumstance of life. Though he initially had no clue about all that was happening to Mary and Elizabeth and Zechariah, he trusted God. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream, things looked dark and dismal. But God had a plan for his loving, faithful, trusting servant. He was working behind the scenes.

No matter where you find yourself today, you can believe that "all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose"

Have a blessed weekend ....

PR [Romans 8:28].