Joseph is one of the understated heroes of the Christmas story. As a wife and a mother, my heart is endeared by his quiet steadfast strength and compassion. He is the kind of man any mother would want her daughter to marry.
This humble man gives us a beautiful picture of unselfish love. It’s intriguing to me that not one of Joseph’s spoken words was ever penned on the pages of scripture. He is a low-key hero whose actions expressed the descriptive love language of his heart. Sometimes, words are unneeded, and as the old clique says “actions speak louder than words,” certainly rings true here.
Joseph knew grace before the child of grace was ever born. When his betrothed bride Mary, who by cultural norms was already considered his wife, was found pregnant, seemingly with the seed of another man, Joseph chooses the path of compassion. He decides to quietly divorce Mary, sparing her public humiliation.
Even in the hurt and confusion of this perceived betrayal, love motivates him to protect her—to preserve her in a culture that publically exposed and stoned women who were found unfaithful. A heart of mercy always quells judgement. And, Joseph shows himself as a man of mercy.
However, when the angel of the Lord comes to Joseph 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 shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-22), Joseph humbly surrenders to a different plan—a different picture.
He chooses to believe the unbelievable and to live in the mystery of God. He stakes his reputation and the risk of ridicule on God’s prophetic words. He accepts the weighty responsibility of raising Jesus as his own son, which exhibits his generosity of soul.
Ironically, the child Joseph chooses to love and raise as his own, will save him and all of mankind. Accepting the mysteries of God often ushers in the miracles of God’s plans…
Friends, Joseph’s responses offer a real challenge as we ponder our own lives. We might consider these questions: When we perceive we are wronged, do we respond with judgement or mercy? Will we follow God even if it costs us our reputation? Are we willing to live in the tension of the unknown mysteries of God? Lastly, do we cultivate generosity in our souls?
Scripture of the Day:
…Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus-‘God save’-because he will save his people from the sins… ( Matthew 1:20-22, The Message)
Father God, You always had a plan of redemption for mankind. Thank
You for Jesus—our Immanuel. May we learn from the honest account of Joseph’s struggle and willingness to accept Your plans for his life. He teaches us how to respond to the mysterious yet amazing plans You have for our own lives. Help us to surrender to Your will. Amen.
Author: Maryanne Abbate