Read Matthew 1:18-2:23.
We rarely hear sermons preached on great faith or courage with Joseph the husband of Mary as the central example. Sadly, his role in the Christmas story has become almost a caricature we tend to skim over at other points on the Christian calendar.
Consider what this key New Testament figure endured in the short chapter and a half of Matthew where his story appears:
- An angel of the Lord appeared to him in dreams not once, not twice, but three times.
- He was told to believe that his fiancée’s pregnancy was the result of a miraculous conception and not an indiscretion.
- He was also told that the child was the long-awaited Messiah, and was instructed to go through with the marriage as planned.
- He kept his new bride a virgin until the child was born.
- Exotic foreign visitors made an unannounced appearance at his home, leaving gifts of great value.
- He learned that the king was seeking to kill the child he called his own.
- He made a daring night escape to a foreign country with his little family.
- God himself appeared to him in a fourth dream!
- When the king died, rather than return home, he built a new life in another city, again, to protect the child.
Any one of these courageous examples of obedience should be considered an act of great faith—unconditional faith! Joseph did not put out a fleece (Judg. 6: 36-40), nor ask for any sign from God that these visions were real and his unbelievable circumstances were true. He did not ask for a special reward or recognition for protecting the Son of God from his enemies. He simply believed God, trusted Him to supply the needed courage, and obeyed.
Joseph, whose name means “may He (Yahweh) add” or “increaser”, was a righteous Jew who could trace his roots all the way back to Abraham. The gospel accounts tell us how he held true to every letter of the law as his young family grew. Joseph trained Jesus and his half-siblings well in the ways of Yahweh. Joseph created a safe, holy home in which the Messiah could be raised. His obedience changed the course of the world.
Thank God today for Joseph, husband of Mary—the righteous man who had the courage to obey, even when circumstances were frightening and seemed to make no sense. Ask God to build in us this same measure of hardy, unconditional faith in Him. Merry Christmas!
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