Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Character Spotlight: Joseph

In the few weeks leading up to Christmas, let’s take a step back from the decorating, shopping, and commercialism, and focus on the true meaning of Christmas - the Bethlehem story. One person at a time, we’ll go through the story in a character-study format, and try to put ourselves in the shoes of those individuals that were there on that first Christmas. Want to do some study for yourself? Here is the schedule:
November 29: Joseph
December 4: Mary
December 6: Gabriel
December 11: Shepherds
December 13: Wise men
December 19: Herod
December 24: Jesus

Today’s character: Joseph, husband of Mary

“And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)”

Not much is said about Joseph outside of the Christmas story. But what we do know reveals much about his Godly character. I believe God chose him for the special task of raising the Messiah because of these attributes:

He showed respect to and for Mary
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 1:18

He was doing everything right and in the proper order - to comply with the law and his own moral character. He was blameless and upright.

He put Mary first

“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to maker her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.” Matthew 1:19

It is important to remember the culture of the day in reference to this espousal of Joseph and Mary. They were, in short, engaged - but in that day, engagement was as binding as marriage, ended only by divorce, except that the woman still lived with her parents until the husband's house and livelihood were in order and he could bring his bride home. If an espoused woman was found to be with child, she was guilty of breaking the law and could lawfully be stoned. (Perhaps we could learn a lesson here - viewing sin as seriously as God views it??!! But I digress…) Joseph thought of Mary first, and was willing, instead of reporting her, to quietly divorce her. Until the angel came along.

He wasn’t impulsive

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream…” Matthew 1:20a

He took his time to think about what would be best...and probably prayed about it, too! This also tells me that he was not a quick tempered man - he didn’t get mad when he heard the news, and make a rash decision he may have regretted later on. And if he hadn’t have waited...he would have missed out on the blessing of raising the Promised Messiah. Now I’m stepping on my own toes….

He trusted God, even when his reputation was ruined.

“Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:” Matthew 1:24

It was in all respects a crazy dream - but he recognized that it was from the Lord. I’d imagine that marrying a pregnant girl did a number on his own reputation. I’m sure those on the outside, not knowing the truth, ruined his character with their words, gossip and reproach. But he chose to trust and do right regardless. A pretty hard thing to do when you know you are innocent of wrong-doing!

He obeyed God and his authorities

Matthew 1:24-25; 2:13-15 Luke 2: 1-4

No matter what God commanded, he did it without question. The laws and decrees that were passed were fulfilled. These details show him to be consistent in every area of his life.

It is hard to imagine the battle that went on in Joseph’s mind, questioning what action was best, wondering how God was going to intervene on his behalf. Even after he chose to follow God’s direction and plan, his life wasn’t a bed of roses. I can’t imagine the turmoil he endured, watching Mary deliver her Baby in a stable, and knowing he couldn’t offer her anything more. Perhaps he questioned where God was at that moment? Funny thing about that...God was in the manger.
There is much to be learned from the character and life of Joseph. What point especially sticks out to you?

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