Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.
I’ve always felt sorry for Joseph. When a baby is born, everybody oohs and aahs over the baby and rushes around to take care of the mother. That’s understandable. She’s gone through nine months of pregnancy and painful childbirth. But when a baby is born nobody gives fathers any attention. We just stand around with that stupid grin on our face, and we don’t know what to do.
But Joseph is integral to the Christmas story. Without him, there would have been no Savior. Why do I say that? Scripture was precise about the requirements for the Messiah. The Messiah, to be the king of Israel, had to be in the lineage of King David. And the right to be a king was inherited through the father. Although Joseph was not the biological father, he was the legal father of Jesus. Because of that, Jesus inherited the right to rule from Joseph. If Joseph had bailed on Mary when he heard about her pregnancy, Jesus would have been disqualified from being the Savior of the world.
Think about this story from Joseph’s point of view. What was Joseph’s profession? He was a carpenter. If you know anything about carpenters, they’re very precise. They want everything measured and cut in just the right way. I imagine that was Joseph’s temperament as well. He and Mary knew they were going to get married. I’m sure Joseph had a blueprint for what their lives would be like: they’d get married, save money, then build their dream house and raise a family. I bet he had the blueprint all ready to go when Mary came to him and said, “Joseph, I’m pregnant. And the father is God.” How would you have responded to that news from your fiancée? We know how Joseph responded. He didn’t believe her at first. The Bible says he wasn’t going to stone her, but he decided to dissolve the engagement so as not to cause any shame to Mary.
Can you imagine what that news must have been like to Joseph to realize the person he loved most in the world had betrayed him? At least that’s what he thought. He was getting ready to end the relationship when something dramatic happened. Matthew 1:20, 24-25 says, “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.’ . . . And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Joseph reminds us that God uses those who are obedient. The angel said, “God is the one responsible; you take her as your wife.” And Joseph didn’t argue. He didn’t understand how it happened, and he didn’t know how it would turn out, but Joseph obeyed God. That’s what it means to be obedient. When you see Joseph in these nativity scenes, ask yourself: “Am I being obedient to what I know God has told me to do even though I can’t see the outcome of my obedience to Him?” God uses those who are obedient.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Stop and Smell the Manger” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.