(Part 3 of 4)
Think of the crisis that Joseph faced that first Christmas: Mary was pregnant, and he knew he wasn’t the father! The Bible records that “…Joseph her husband, was a righteous man and was unwilling to disgrace her publicly, he resolved to divorce her quietly. But after he had pondered these things, 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.” (Matthew 1:19-20).
Some have called Joseph the neglected character of Christmas. Little is mentioned about him apart from this passage in Matthew 1 and 2. Interestingly, we have no record of any word he said. He was the strong, silent type, I guess. : -)
Looking at the example of Joseph, we don’t have to be afraid if we are following God. Someone said that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will, no matter what is happening around us. Here are three things we can learn from Joseph.
Like Joseph, seek the will of God.
There are times we don’t get it right. Even our best falls short. Nevertheless, our hearts need to be seeking God’s best. The Bible says that Joseph was a “righteous man.” The word here means doing the right thing, the right way – he was a man seeking God’s will, even though he didn’t know all the facts.
Remember that during this time, there was no legal difference between being engaged and married. To get un-engaged, one had to do more than cancel a wedding; it required a divorce.
The story reveals the tension that he was going through. On the one hand, he had the conviction to follow God’s law, but he also had compassion, not wanting to shame Mary publicly. Joseph had a right to divorce Mary, but he didn’t. Because he was righteous, he sought God’s will for doing what was right and God revealed it to him.
Like Joseph, listen to the voice of God.
In the business of life, it’s hard to slow down and listen to God’s voice. There is no doubt that Joseph was afraid and confused, yet he was willing to hear from God. The angel told him that Mary was pregnant from the Holy Spirit and that he should take her as his wife.
As Joseph listened, he learned two significant attributes of this new baby. First, his name would be called Jesus. The name Jesus is a transliteration of the Hebrew word Yeshua, meaning The Lord is Salvation, or The Savior. Jesus was born in this world to die for the sins of this world.
Second, this baby was God incarnate- Immanuel, God with us. I love the verse in Charles Wesley’s, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, — “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see; hail the incarnate Deity; pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.”
Like Joseph, obey the word of God.
If you are like me, too often we are slow to obey God. Joseph wasn’t like that. The text says, “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him…” There is no mention of delay or doubt – he did what God said! Joseph would have to obey God promptly again to escape the hatred of Herod. He would travel to another country, Egypt, to save a baby that would save the world.
BEFORE YOU GO
We don’t have to be afraid! What are your fears? The good news of Christmas is that we don’t have to live in fear as we follow Him! Remember that whatever we are fearing, we can trust God more!