We see him in every manger scene … standing at attention with a stare and slight smile looking over his staff at the baby in the manger. Maybe you’re like me and don’t think too much about Joseph … the unsung hero of the Christmas story.
Stop and think about it … Mary, Joseph’s finance’, gets pregnant before they’re married and had been together. But his love for her was so strong that he wants to put her away quietly. He could have had her stoned for apparently committing adultery.
Before he can “put her away,” he is visited by the angel of the Lord and is told to take Mary as his wife. He learns that she is carrying the promised Messiah who was conceived by the Holy Spirit to save God’s people from their sins. He unquestionably believes and obeys.
Joseph lives, as does Mary with the stigma of being a couple that couldn’t wait. He leads her to Bethlehem and Jesus is born as promised. About a year or so later, after the Magi visit the young boy Jesus, Herod plots to kill the baby boys in the region to eliminate this threat of a new king. The angel of the Lord comes again and says to Joseph: “Get up and take your family to Egypt.” And the Bible says he rose … probably got up and got ready that night so that they were out of town before Herod’s men came to slaughter the boys of Nazareth.
After Herod dies and the threat of Jesus being killed has subsided, the angel appears again and tells Joseph to bring his family back to Israel. Immediately he gets up and begins the process of bringing them “home.” This wasn’t a three hour tour, it was a long haul in that day. When Joseph returns he is afraid that Herod’s son wants to kill Jesus. Again the angel of the Lord comes and tells him to go to Galilee … Nazareth. He does so immediately.
Several lessons … from this unsung hero of the Christmas story …
Joseph was a selfless lover. He loved Mary and Jesus more than his own personal reputation and comfort. It wasn’t all about him.
He was a protector … his heart’s desire was to protect his fiancé’s reputation and her son’s life … he was concerned for their safety and well being.
He unquestionably obeyed God. Joseph was apparently a Godly man and had a relationship with God to the point where he knew His voice and heard from him. Four times the angel of the Lord came and gave him instructions and he obeyed without a second thought …
Lord, make me a man of God, a husband and a father like Joseph!