“When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.” ― Matthew1:24.
There are three distinct Josephs in the Bible; the first and probably most well-known is Joseph the son of Jacob. This is the Joseph who is sold into slavery by his brothers, spends years in prison and eventually becomes the prime minister of Egypt. His story is told in the book of Genesis 37-50 and is mentioned in John 4:5: Acts 7:9-18; Hebrews 11:21-22 and Revelation 7:8. The second Joseph was the husband of Mary and the surrogate father of Jesus. The third was Joseph of Arimathea in whose tomb Jesus was laid to rest.
Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus is somewhat of the silent, passive voice in the Christmas event. He doesn’t have a line in the Christmas narrative. In fact, there are no words of Joseph recorded in Scripture. Yet the Gospel accounts remind us that God’s plan for the Incarnation, and Jesus’ birth, included Joseph from the beginning. Joseph is a faithful husband and a caring father. He is a man of faith who listens to God’s messages and then obeys God’s commands, trusting in God’s promises.
He was not passive but focused and intentional in his actions. The quietness of people like Joseph can be overwhelmed by the noise of Christmas music, concerts, television specials, parties, celebrations, and endless advertising. Through all the clamor and sounds of this season, Joseph reminds us of how important it is to hear God’s voice. Through the harried pace of life in this season of the year, Joseph reminds us to be focused, intentional and obedient to Christ in our actions. The example of Joseph’s life also reminds us to trust God even when things don’t make sense.
Joseph not only listened carefully but acted on God’s instructions. Joseph did exactly what God asked him to do. He didn’t wait until morning. He didn’t wait for better weather. He took immediate action. “Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28) In another place, He said, “Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” (John 13:17) It was obedience motivated out of faith and love of God that moved Joseph to action.
God is still expecting our faithful response through obedient action. Joseph’s example should inspire and guide us to find hope and direction for living by taking time this Christmas to be quiet enough to listen to God’s voice and responding with faithful obedience.
- What impressed you most about Joseph’s character?
- What makes it hard for you to obey God consistently? What reasons do we give for not obeying God? What does our unwillingness to obey say about our heart condition?