Good Friday morning ...
As we continue our Advent journey ...
Joseph was a very good man. He has rightly been called the forgotten man of Christmas.
It is natural that most of our attention should focus on Mary since she gave birth to Jesus. Nowhere in the birth records do we have any recorded words of Joseph. He appears on the stage of history for a few moments and then disappears.
Here is what we know about him:
His father was named Jacob
His family hometown was Bethlehem in Judea, but he lived in Nazareth in Galilee
He is from the royal line of David
He was a carpenter by trade
He was a poor man. We know this because when he and Mary presented Jesus
in the temple, they brought two birds instead of a lamb.
He was a keeper of the law
How old was Joseph? We don't know for sure, but many agree he was probably a young man or possibly a teenager.
Now Mary turns up pregnant. Joseph only knows one thing for sure. He is not the father!
What words describe a man who hears this news? Anger ... confusion ... frustration ... rage ... embarrassment ... shame ... disappointment.
What did he say to her? What did she say to him? Did she tell him about the angel Gabriel? If so, can you blame him for not believing her?
Did he say to her, "Mary. how could you? You were pledged to me. We were going to get married. I was going to build a little house for us in Nazareth. Mary, Mary, how could you do this? Why, Mary, why? I kept myself just for you. Why couldn't you keep yourself for me?"
I'm sure Joseph cried ... perhaps more than he ever had.
The words of Matthew 1:24-25 reveal Joseph's finest qualities: "When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she had given birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."
Every step he takes testifies to his greatness:
By marrying her quickly he broke Jewish custom, but he protected Mary's reputation.
She was pregnant, and he wasn't the father, but he married her anyway.
By keeping her a virgin until Jesus was born, he protected the miracle of Jesus'
conception by the Holy Spirit against slander by unbelievers.
By naming the baby he exercised a father’s prerogative and thus officially took him into
his family as his own son.
I like Joseph. I wish I could meet him. He strikes me as a very good man.
We give more attention to Mary and rightly so. But Joseph deserves his credit too. He is a man of faith, struggling with his doubts, persuaded to believe what God has said, and ultimately acting upon his persuasion.
Joseph stands as a model of what a godly man looks like:
He was tough when he could have been weak.
He was tender when he could have been harsh.
He was thoughtful when he could have been hasty.
He was trusting when he could have doubted.
There is one more thing about the kind of man Joseph was. When Jesus grew up and began His ministry, He chose one word above all others to describe what God is like. He called Him Father.
Joseph was surely a good man.
Have a blessed and joyful Christmas ...