“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 from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But 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.”All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18-25 ESV)
If you write for a Christian audience you are pretty much expected to write something either devotional or theological about Christmas.
It’s already been done over and over again by far more gifted writers than myself.
I was just going to let it go until this passage struck a chord in me…what about Joseph?
All the characters in the nativity story get a lot of press…Mary, Jesus, the wise guys, the shepherds, the angels…Joseph…not so much.
This, despite the fact that Joseph was the first person to suffer for the sake of Christ.
The English text does not do this passage justice…it does not capture either the pathos or the heart of a great man.
“Joseph, I’m pregnant”.
The words must have torn him inside out.
He knew it could not be his child.
In a few seconds with one sentence his pride, his manhood, and his dreams were shattered into the sand.
It was a risk he took waiting until later in life to get married…he was older and she was young and pretty.
Now he had been betrayed twice…once by the woman he loved and hoped to marry and once by someone he had to know who lived in the village.
His mind raced…was it one of the shopkeepers? One of his customers at the carpentry shop? His apprentice? Who would do this to him?
“The child is from Yawheh”.
Joseph had to believe at this point that not only had she betrayed him, she was crazy.
The Bible doesn’t tell us if he shouted at her or how long he cried.
It does say that in his pain and betrayal he chose to act in grace and love when he had the right to inflict some pain of his own.
He would divorce her quietly…and allow her to go on with the rest of her life and he picked up the pieces of his.
That is one of the greatest acts of sacrificial love recorded in Scripture.
We know the rest of the story…we know God came to Joseph in a dream and verified this crazy story…and Joseph believed God.
The child was not his, but he would raise it as if it were.
I wonder if he ever understood that God picked him to be the stepfather of Christ as surely as he had chosen Mary to be his mother.
I wonder if he ever pondered these things or if he simply did what good fathers do…worked hard at his trade, loved his family, and worshipped their God in front of them.
Joseph disappears from Scripture without a mention of his death or his funeral…he dies as quietly as he lived.
I’ll bet Jesus wept…
His legacy is the son that wasn’t his…and he did really well.
It started with choosing to love despite the pain and then believing God for the unbelievable..
Make your own application…
I saw someone mention this verse yesterday:
“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him”
It struck me then and it still does now.
The more I meditate on this mans life the more I relate to and love him…nothing was easy, but he was faithful.
Amen. Very good word. A deeper story than it appears on the surface…. much to consider.
I’ve been contemplating the episode in the temple with Simeon…. how did he know that the scandalous child of a poor couple was the Salvation of the Lord he’d waited for all his life?
Love you my friend. Blessed Christmas to you and Trey!
I’ve always wondered if Joseph considered that Mary may have been raped. I know I’m weird but it’s possible that he considered it. Not that it matters. Any thoughts?
Much love to you…merry Christmas yo you and all your family, my friend.
Good word. Thinking about Joseph and Jesus.
We know that Joseph was alive when Jesus went to the temple at age 12.
We know that Jesus was called the carpenters son. As far as I know, that profession was not held in high or low esteem. Blue collar background to be sure.
Never once was He called Jesus (or Joshua) bar Joseph, at least according to Scripture.
All this to say that when Jesus spoke in parables about fathers, while He certainly has His heavenly Father mind for some of them, but perhaps He also could have had Joseph in mind for some others?
I would like to think that Jesus’s relationship with Joseph was good.
Joseph: “Jesus, did you finish that dresser for your aunt Elizabeth?”
Jesus: “Nailed it, dad.”
Joseph: “Very good, Son. Go call James in for dinner.”
Jesus: “I’ll have to go get him. He’s down the road doing good works. I think he has something to prove.”
I know that many of you here have little time and even a veiled hostility toward all things Catholic but here goes anyway. Some years back I heard a Jesuit deliver a beautiful homily on how much of the domestic violence we hear about could be nipped in the bud if more step fathers could have the heart of St. Joseph instead of an adversarial relationship with sons that aren’t theirs biologically.
My hostility is only toward the evil side of the RCC and not veiled at all. I agree with the Jesuit on this point and there’s only one way it can happen.
“And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
When a man repents his whole world view changes as well as his attitude toward his family. This happened with me and my dad. When I became a Christian my heart was turned toward my father and when he became a Christian his heart was turned toward me and the rest of his family. Redemption. Reconciliation. Relationship.
This is beautiful, Michael. Thank you again for your Friday “applications.”
I have to mention that I can’t get over how much your picture of Mary looks like my youngest daughter. Quite amazing.
Another thing of beauty, Michael!
Blessings to you and yours sir.
Thanks so much for sharing your heart again this year, I know it’s not easy.
Putting your heart out there exposes you and makes you vulnerable, so thanks… appreciate your courage.
Merry Christmas sir!
Thank you, Nonnie!
Michael, thank you for the kind words…blessings on you, your family, and the work you are doing.
Merry Christmas to all and a very happy New Year.
Joseph really does seem to be the odd man out as we look forward to Christmas. I had misunderstood something our pastor said this week and after service I asked him about it. It had to do about the death of Joseph and he mentioned how scripture is pretty silent concerning him. You really brought the story to life Michael. Thanks for sharing this.
Incredible angle point Michael! We hear so little of Joseph.
I have pondered this a lot. Through the lens of this day and age of promiscuity it is not such a big deal, but in Joseph’s day and age of arranged marriages it is hugh. His woman cheated, (whom he trusted), on him obviously and as you have said some man in the village has obviously ‘dissed’ him. and more then likely it had to be some man that he knew since the village was so small.
Such heart pain! So deep is the wounding! Anyone of us who has done time in ‘heart~break hotel’ know this pain all too well. It is always a deep physical pain in the chest that is persistent and just will not go away seemingly.
How does a man in his position deal with this? “Lock and load” is the usual response of most men. Find out who did it and bash him hard.
But Joseph is not one of us, he does not go into NSA’ detective mode. He does not pressure Mary for the facts.
He determines to set Mary aside privately, he was obviously smitten with her and did love her deeply. So much so that God intervenes and sets the course that few men could survive, He chooses Joseph to bear the initial heart pain and the great burden of raising a son that is not of his own blood.
Raise a son that is not your own and have your wife impregnated by other then yourself? No way! Who of us can honestly say that we would have reacted as Joseph has?
Joseph and Mary were scared and baffled or they were not human. But God informs both of them of why and how they are in the position they find themselves in by angelic messenger. The sweet salve of the Holy Spirit, the balm of Gilead soothes the emotional wounding and sets the course for both of these human beings.
The rest is history. And here we are…
The birth account is not about Joseph – he plays his role and steps off stage. Mary plays her role and steps off stage – the same goes for the shepherds and the angels and wise men. They are all background and filler to the story.
“Mary, Joseph, why does your son not look like you?”
MLD, Right! The story is about Jesus, but we all learn from our brothers and sisters, we are encouraged and comforted, we are inspired by their faithfulness, perseverance, their trust and even their failures. Isn’t that the reason God has all those stories in the Bible about men and women, in whose lives he moved? He uses His people to His glory. Yes, they step off the stage, but they leave a testimony for those to come.
Now go put on some sun tan lotion, drink your Hawaiian punch, and enjoy your holiday!
God does not create people to be “background” and “filler”…
Nice try MLD.
You can step off the stage now…
“…he chose to act in grace and love when he had the right to inflict some pain of his own.”
Gulp! Hard to swallow as I think of making my own application. Thank you, Michael…I think.
I know that it is a minor detail, but nothing in Michael’s story is in the Bible and we have no biblical indication that Joseph’s ‘feelings’ even warrant consideration.
When you wonder about Joseph, you take your eyes off Jesus.
But we do know that our rapture theology / dispensationalist friends think that one day even Jesus himself will walk off the stage to give the center stage to the show’s grand finale Israel … the star of the Bible.
If God didn’t want us to learn from all the characters in the Bible he could have written a couple chapters about Jesus and called it good.
Well, iif you are to learn from Joseph, why did you have to make it up?
I think what we learn about bible characters is that God uses people to carry out his will.- [eriod
Try Ruth, how much time in a bible study is spent on the lineage of THE SEED vs, well, let’s just call it the human interest side.
The big news today, I bought my 10 yr old granddaughter 2 hours of surfing lessons. She got up everytime, so when we were done, I took her out myself. Got great pictures.
Like any good author, and lets face it He’s the best, God tells his tale without getting bogged down in a secondary story line. He sticks to the plot and draws you along with the main character, Jesus.
No, one is some expendable character, because it is real life, but God told us what we needed and not what might want to know.
* not what might want to know.
I have no idea why twice it left off we