Advent Gift Bag 6
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18)
a carpenter from Nazareth and
fiancé (and eventually, husband) to Mary (the mother of Jesus).
This is about as much as we are given about this man in the Gospels. We are certainly given further glimpses into his character if we dig a little deeper, but from a biographical point of view, this is it.
Looking deeper we understand:
Joseph was faithful to God and His word. The Bible says he was “faithful to the law” (Matthew 1:19).
Joseph faithfully loved his wife-to-be. This is evident from his desire not to “expose her to public disgrace”. You say, “But, hold on Wayne! Does that same passage not also say that “he had in mind to divorce her quietly”. Yes it does, but note the word “quietly”. Picture this – Joseph, betrothed to Mary, gets word that she is “with child”. What a shocker! He knows he has not touched her! He knows he’s not responsible for the child within her womb! How could Mary betray him like this! Who did this to her! How could she! Despite the perplexity, confusion and deep sense of betrayal that this man would have been feeling, he decides to keep this as quiet as possible and divorce Mary discreetly. He loves Mary and does not want her to be more disgraced than she already would be in the eyes of others – an unwed mother!
Joseph was a faithful, protective father. After being persuaded by the angel to go ahead and marry Mary as planned, Joseph steps up to the plate of his calling, viz. to be the earthly dad to Jesus. This, as far as we can see, he does well. For one, he leads his family to safety in Egypt when the life of Baby Jesus was threatened by King Herod’s decree. No doubt there were other key fatherly roles he played in Jesus’ life in those early years. It’s not clear for how long Joseph was alive during Jesus’ earthly life – there is strong indication that he died before Jesus began His public ministry – however, for the time they had together, Joseph was what the boy Jesus needed in his formative ‘Son of Man’ years.
What can we possibly walk away with as we reflect on the contents of Advent Gift Bag 6 – Joseph. We could go the route of encouraging all fathers out there to continue being faithful to your family. Dad, you’re doing a good job. I know it’s tough at times; I know it’s a thankless ‘job’ at times – but Dad, whether you have been called to raise the biological fruit of your own loins or those of another, know that you are doing well. To coin an old phrase – anyone can be a father, but not everyone can be a Dad! God has called you to this role to provide for, protect, lead and love your children. With His help, keep going.
Another thought we could walk away with is this. Each one of us are called to do our part in the extension of God’s Kingdom. Some, like Mary will be around from start to finish: she was there:
at Jesus’ birth,
at Jesus’ first miracle
at Jesus’ death on the cross.
But, others like Joseph, are there for a season. Joseph was there at Jesus’ birth and during some of those formative years and thereafter we don’t hear of him again. However, Dear Friend, nobody will ever venture to say that Joseph did not fulfil what he was called to do. He stepped up, he stepped in, and followed through. Praise God that he did.
Are you wondering today what impact your ‘small role’ in God's big story could possibly make. Well, wonder no more. Do what you have been called to do – do it to the best of your God-given ability, and know that God, Who is the Rewarder, sees and knows all. Nothing done for the Lord is ever wasted.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Lord, the task that I've been given, assigned,
Seems small, insignificant, when with others I compare,
Help me do it excellently, gracefully, tirelessly,
Knowing that it is for You I do; it is You, I share.