This time of year our focus is on the baby in the manger and rightly so. We also give special attention to His virginal mother, Mary. But what about the third part of that holy family?
You know who I’m talking about. That stand in the background out of the spotlight guy named Joseph.
Maybe he was an introvert by nature. Maybe not. I really don’t know a lot about Joseph simply because there isn’t much written about him in the scriptures.
When you really think about it, Joseph must have been a truly amazing guy for God to have picked him to be the earthly father of His only son, Jesus. God could have picked absolutely anyone for the job – a king, a statesman, a rabbi, a rich man.
But He didn’t.
He picked Joseph. And by all accounts he was just an ordinary, average Joe.
A carpenter. A man who worked with his hands.
What was so different about Joseph’s character that he was the one to make the cut above all the others?
In the first chapter of Matthew, the nineteenth verse we can gain a few clues to his character. Matthew writes that Joseph was as a righteous man.
To be righteous means to be in right standing with God. Joseph loved God and did what His law commanded. He could stand before God and say, “Everyday I’m doing my best to do what you’ve asked of me.”
Not really so ordinary, is it?
When I read further I find how he dealt with a problematic situation.
You see, his fiancé Mary had given him some troubling news.
She was pregnant.
And the baby wasn’t his.
But it got even stranger than that.
Not only was she pregnant, but she claimed that she was still a virgin and had been chosen to give birth to the very Son of God.
I can only imagine the look on Joseph’s face when she dropped that little bombshell. He must have thought she was slightly delusional. After all, hadn’t she been visiting her relative Elizabeth for the past three months? Had something happened to her there that she just couldn’t bring herself to admit?
You know that if this happened in our present day he might have suggested that she be psychologically evaluated or at the very least have insisted upon a DNA test to determine paternity. This had Jerry Springer written all over it.
But as I read on I see his reaction isn’t one of anger or betrayal. It is humility and love.
Yes, he’s going to break it off with her, but he’s going to do it quietly. In those days, under the law those who became pregnant outside of marriage could have been stoned to death. But for Joseph to marry her after she had revealed her pregnancy was to say that he was the responsible party in the matter.
But Joseph was a righteous man. He was in right standing with God. He followed the rules and would have never been intimate with his fiancé before marriage.
So what to do?
The scriptures say he considered what to do. He gave it some long, hard thought. He knew what he must do. Out of compassion he would let quietly her go.
However, all those hard, thought out plans changed in an instant when he got a visit from an angel of the Lord. Everything Mary had told him was validated by that angel. Joseph was to take Mary as his wife, raise the boy as his own and name Him Jesus.
Did you get that? He was to be the adoptive daddy to the Son of God.
Jesus, the Savior of the world.
My Savior. Your Savior.
Definitely not your average Joe.