LUKE’S CHRISTMAS GOSPEL OF JESUS: A 30-Day Christmas-Time Devotional.
God’s Man: Joseph.
Luke 2: 3-4 (MsgB)
 Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for.  So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there.
Joseph of Nazareth.
We don’t really know a lot about Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph.
Unfortunately, Luke’s Christmas story doesn’t give us a great amount of detail about our good man, Joseph, and his life. And, of course, the gospels of Mark and John don’t even include the Christmas accounts. So, that leaves Matthew’s gospel to fill in a few of the gaps for us. We do know that his father’s name was Jacob (Matthew 1: 16) and that apparently Joseph was a carpenter, by trade. (Though, even that fact has been challenged by some historians – read more here)
Matthew gives us Joseph’s family tree. To a good Jew, which was Matthew’s primary audience, this family lineage would have proven to be very important biographical information. But to those of us around the globe who are non-Jewish, even Matthew’s account is not nearly as descriptive as we’d like.
Yet, while Matthew doesn’t give us much to hang our biographical hat on, we do find a wonderful glimpse on what kind of character was inside this man, Joseph of Nazareth. In verses 18-25 in Matthew’s first chapter, we read this:
The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced. While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—’God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term: Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; They will name him Emmanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”). Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.
Matthew’s words here reveal a lot about this young man! Talk about a guy with good character. When faced with the public shame and uncertainty of reputation that arose when his fiancée was found pregnant, Joseph chooses to do the right thing, protecting Mary from the disgrace and possible death that could have resulted from this type of shocking betrayal.
In today’s world, a pregnancy outside of marriage is not much of a shocker. But in 1st century Israel, the idea of your betrothed getting pregnant before marriage is heresy. And the fact that Mary’s pregnancy did not happen through Joseph is enough to push this great sin over into the realm of mortal sin, punishable by death. Which, even by today’s standards, makes me all the more impressed at this young man, Joseph, don’t you think?
How many young men today, for example, when pushed into a very tight corner like this would respond the way Joseph does? I mean, can you imagine being publicly embarrassed by your bride-to-be, betraying you by having sex with some other man, and then she comes to you, telling you that God did this thing to her! Come on. Are you kidding me?
But Matthew states that even before he was told by God that Mary’s story was true, Joseph chooses not to think first about himself, but rather how he might protect Mary’s name, looking for discreet ways to navigate her through these un-chartered waters of a pregnancy outside of marriage.
Wow. Now that’s character, don’t you think?
God obviously thought so. And quite possibly that’s why God chose Joseph to be the earth-bound step-father to His divine Son, Jesus. In three different occasions in Matthew’s records, we go on to read that God sent Joseph three specific dreams, giving direction for his life and family. Now, it’s one thing to get dreams from God, but it takes a person of strong character and solid integrity to get up from those dreams and obey them, despite the personal cost for doing so.
Joseph of Nazareth.
Quite the dreamer. Quite the man. Quite the character.
As I see it, it’s because of this one man’s good character, integrity, and faithful obedience; we now are able to celebrate the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Let’s hear it for this one good man, Joseph of Nazareth, who chose to live His life God’s way, and not his own!
My prayer: Thank You, God, for the wonderful reminder of how You always honor integrity, good character, and obedience in the life of Your people. In Joseph, we find all three. Holy Spirit, may you indwell me and empower me so that the same good character, integrity, and obedience that lived in Joseph, live in me today. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So, how would I have responded to the pressures Joseph faced? Would I willingly choose to be gracious toward others when given the same set of circumstances? Would this type of betrayal reveal good character and integrity in me, and would I willingly be obedient to follow God’s direction, despite the fact that obedience would be difficult?
So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?
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