The story that you are about to read is about Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. In the Bible we learn that, in the face of a shocking revelation, Joseph was a good man. But then we are blessed (and convicted) when we see that he was also a godly man. Joseph has to be one of the best men in the biblical story of redemption.
Joseph the Galilean Man
We know little about Joseph. We know he was a carpenter by trade (Matthew 13:55) who lived in Nazareth in the Galilee region (Luke 2:4). And we also know that he had a royal lineage, being a descendant of King David. Indeed, in the heat of Joseph’s crisis, an angel appeared to him and called him “Joseph, son of David” (Matthew 1:20).
Joseph had likely never been called that in his life, being the literal son of a man named Jacob (Matthew 1:16). But in the confusion of Joseph’s thoughts, the angel reminded him of his royal lineage in a small but profound way.
Joseph the Good Man
Part of the seriousness of the situation Joseph and Mary were in is explained by Jewish custom. The Jewish betrothal custom was much more serious than our modern engagement. While modern engagements can be called off, a Jewish betrothal could be broken only by a certificate of divorce. Betrothed Jewish couples were considered husband and wife even before the official wedding—but physical union prior to the wedding was prohibited.
And this is where we learn how good a man Joseph was. Deuteronomy 22:22-24 called for stoning of both parties involved in illicit sexual relationships. If Joseph had been full of rage and revenge, he would have made Mary’s pregnancy public. But, “being a just man” (a good man; Matthew 1:19), Joseph sought to do what was best for Mary: “to put her away secretly” until her baby was delivered.
In the midst of his situation he chose to do what was best—what was loving—for Mary. Remember: At this point, Joseph had no idea of the divine intervention in Mary’s life, that it was God who had caused Mary to conceive. He was acting purely out of the goodness of his heart toward a woman he loved.
Joseph the Godly Man
In the midst of his pain, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and explained everything: Mary was to become the mother of Israel’s Messiah by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18, 20-21).
It is interesting that the angel didn’t coldly command Joseph to proceed with the marriage. Instead, Joseph’s fears and feelings were the focus of the angel’s words: “Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife” (Matthew 1:20). God is a compassionate God; He knows our fears and concerns. The next verse says, “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife” (Matthew 1:24). In this story, we find that not only was Joseph a good man and a godly man, but a giving man as well.
Joseph the Giving Man
We don’t know all the details of how Mary and Joseph moved forward after having received the news from the angel. But we do know Joseph would have had to gently tell his and Mary’s story to (at least) their parents, and perhaps to others as they made plans to move ahead with their wedding. He became Mary’s advocate, her defender, in the face of understandable skepticism from family and friends. He stood beside her and said, “Mary is pregnant by an act of God.”
Maybe he didn’t go into that detail—I don’t know. But he had to say something. Whatever he did, instead of covering himself and Mary with excuses, he covered Mary with love. Joseph was a giving man.
Joseph’s dream of being married to the woman he loved was restored beyond what he had ever dreamed of! He embraced the privilege of raising Jesus. Joseph’s love for God and his willingness to obey Him by faith alone, resulted in the greatest blessing of his life.
This Christmas, remember a good, godly, and giving man named Joseph. Put him on your list of heroes for how he accepted God’s will for his life because of love—love for God and love for Mary.
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God,
and serves as Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.For more information about Turning Point visit www.DavidJeremiah.org
As you read Christ Above All, Dr. Jeremiah’s study of Colossians, you’ll come to better know who Jesus is theologically. In other words, the truth about Him—the whole truth and nothing but the truth—will thrill you. Our minds need solid doctrine so we’ll have a solid relationship with Christ, built on personal reverence for Him and friendship with Him.