Reflections on the Word: Learn from this lesson from Joseph
The Christmas story is full of joy and excitement and many movies and books have been produced about the Christmas story. Some are total works of fiction others hold to scripture fairly well. The actual Christmas story is found in your Bible in three places: Matthew 1, Luke 2 and John 1 (although John takes us “behind the scenes” and not to the actual events).
Still, I find it fascinating that one of the main characters of the Christmas story has no lines. Not one word is found in scripture that this man speaks, but what is said about him speaks volumes to his faith and character. That man is Joseph, the man God chose to raise Jesus.
The first time we find Joseph is in Matthew, where it says his ancestry can be traced back to King David, but his occupation is that of a carpenter. So the man God chose to raise Christ came from a royal family, but was himself a working class man. What do we know about Joseph?
Matthew 1:18-19 says “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
In that culture the espousal period was like being married but without living together, so it could only be dissolved by divorcement. When Joseph found out Mary was pregnant he did not want to cause her harm so he was just going to end it privately. Think about that. When Mary tells Joseph an amazing story that’s hard to believe, he still doesn’t want to cause her harm. Scripture calls him “a righteous man.” I think that should challenge all of us. Are you righteous even when it seems like someone has wronged you? Joseph chose to do a good thing, and that alone speaks volumes about the man.
Next we find Joseph having a dream where an angel basically says “Mary’s not lying, it’s okay to take her as your wife.” And he does just that. Again, another event that says something about Joseph. He was able to listen when God was speaking. That, too, is a challenge to all believers. Can you discern the voice of God from all the other voices out there? How can you hear God speaking today? I think mostly from his word. The Bible is given to us so we can hear what God desires from his children.
Finally we find Joseph at the manger in Bethlehem, where again he has a dream, but this one is a warning. Matthew 2:13 says “. . . An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.’” Herod wanted to kill Jesus, so once again, when God spoke, Joseph listened and did what God told him to do.
In a day when life can get overwhelming, on this Christmas when you can easily lose your connection with God – I think the silent voice of Christmas should challenge every believer to live with high moral character and live in obedience to the Lord. That’s the lesson from Joseph, and one every Jesus follower can learn from.
Pastor Rich Lammay of High Sierra Fellowship is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.