Not too long ago, I watched the home video of my parents’ stay in the hospital just after my birth. My parents were young–23 and 25–and I was their first. You could tell they were playing it cool, but secretly, they had not idea what was coming for them.
We had to fast forward through lots of footage of me. I was just sleeping. And my daddy was making sure to document every deep breath I
breathed. From sleeping in the hospital to sleeping at home just after the hospital, and at least once a month until I was four months old, he had a fascination with the way his daughter slept.
In a way, my dad has been quietly watching my whole life. He has stepped in often and fathered throughout, but he is a guy who likes to take everything in. He took it in while I was a sleeping baby, when I gained a little sister, when I began school, then high school, the graduated before heading to college, and even as I said I do. He set his gaze upon his child. That being said, I want to explore the life of the one of the most important fathers in history. A man whose gaze was set upon both his Son and His Father simultaneously. I want to better understand how and why this man was able to quietly take in the wonders of raising his son.
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Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
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Joseph was also chosen by God.
It is easy to only associate the Christmas story with Mary, the angles, the shepherds, wisemen, and of course, Jesus. However, God cast another role who so often goes overlooked.
Matthew 1 tells the story of a man we often forget to remember: Joseph. Joseph was a carpenter betrothed to Mary. You see, in this time, betrothal was just as binding as a marriage although the time for physical union had not yet come. It would take a divorce to dissolve the betrothal. And this man, a man seen by God as righteous, learned that the woman he had signed a life-long covenant with was pregnant before they ever had the opportunity to physically become one.
I know that if I learned news like that, I would be inclined to kick and scream and make my betrothed seem like a monster to justify my own misjudgment of the man. In fact, at that time, an adulterer or adulteress would have been qualified as guilty enough for a stoning. Yet Joseph–before he even knew the whole story–resolved to spare Mary of the punishment the law would say she deserved. God knew Joseph’s heart was pure. He chose this man, a man who valued forgiveness, to raise the God who came to this earth to do just that.
God’s sovereignty is far greater than our understanding.
You see, all of this was going through Joseph’s mind because he was not yet able to grasp what God was about to do in his life. He was getting ready to make Joseph the adopted father of The Son.
An Angel appeared to Joseph before he could do anything to let him know what the deal was. When Joseph heard this news, you know he was terrified. I imagine he thought something similar what Mary might have thought. “How is someone like me, someone who sins, suppose to raise the Son of God?” Yet just as Mary did, he glorified God through it. He immediately set his gaze upon the One who was coming to redeem this broken earth. He married her, knowing that the world would look at both of them as scum for having sex before marriage. He took on the task of raising the only perfect person, knowing that his flaws would be amplified next to the boy he was raising. He took her to the home of the King that headed up his descendants while his wife was in her last trimester, trusting that no matter what, God would provide. He would be sovereign over the birth, life, and ultimately death of this child they were being granted.
No, we do not hear very much about Joseph. After all, God is Jesus’s Father. Joseph is His adopted Father. Yet I wonder how much teaching Jesus did for Joseph
. I imagine Jesus and Joseph were a pretty tight pair. They shared the same occupation and loved the same Father. They trusted one another. After all, in a way, Jesus had chosen Joseph to be his dad.
Their relationship could not have been perfect because Joseph was not perfect. But his story reminds me of the way God delicately handles each of our own lives for His glory. He has hand picked His people to do work we do not deem ourselves qualified for. Heck, we are definitely not qualified for them. Yet He prepares us anyway. He gives us tasks that only He has the power to give and grants us the responsibility of spreading His name worldwide through the tasks He gives. He does not need us. He did not need Joseph to raise Jesus. Yet he allows us to do it anyway because of what He will teach us through it.