Lessons for Joseph’s Life
By Doug Cox
There is so much to learn from the story of Jesus’s birth. We often overlook the important role of Joseph, Jesus’s foster dad. He had much to overcome to be so significant in the life of Jesus. None of what Joseph went through was easy.
First, his life started with a black mark against it. Though he was from the house of king David, thirteen generations earlier there was a man in the family line named Jeconiah. He was so wicked God placed a curse on his descendants saying none could ever sit on the throne of David. (See Jeremiah 22:30). This meant Joseph even though being a direct descendent of David through Solomon could never be the father of the Messiah. His own natural seed was disqualified. This makes knowledge of Mary’s genealogy very important. She too is a descendant of David, but not through Solomon but instead through Nathan.
This makes the reality of the virgin birth very important. Mary’s natural body provided the avenue for David’s natural kingly heritage and lineage to be transferred to the next generation. Her virgin womb provided the place for God’s seed to be miraculously planted. Through Mary, God had the humble virgin He needed to become the mother of the Messiah, but He still needed a qualified descendent of David who could and would watch over and provide for Him. Welcome Joseph!
Though Joseph was disqualified in one way to parent Jesus, he was qualified in many other ways and would be the perfect foster parent. Below are some of his qualifications to be the guardian over baby Jesus, AKA Immanuel, God with us.
One, Joseph was merciful and compassionate. He looked out for Mary when he discovered she was pregnant with someone else’s child. Instead of being legalistic and punishing her according to the law, which meant she could have been stoned, he had the desire to divorce her quietly. (See Matthew 1:19)
Secondly, he was also an obedient believer who loved Mary and believed and obeyed the angel who visited him while contemplating his heartbreaking dilemma. Matthew 1:20 says while he thought about quietly divorcing her “…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Joseph obeyed God no matter what it meant to his reputation and career.
Third, Joseph was a man who could hear from God. After Jesus birth in Bethlehem, Joseph had established the family and provided them a house to live in. The newborn king had grown from a baby to a toddler. Jesus could have been close to two years old at the time. It must have been a surprise for them to be visited by Magi from the east bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Not long after their departure a serious warning came to Joseph about his families’ wellbeing.
Matthew 2:13-15 tells the story. After the wise men departed “…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him. When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Like I said at the beginning. There is much we can learn from the story of Jesus birth and from Joseph. Joseph teaches us that our past doesn’t have to keep us from doing great things for God. He teaches us the value of being open minded and merciful in difficult situations. He teaches us the importance of obedience to God even when He asks us to do difficult things. Finally, Joseph teaches us the importance of hearing God’s voice and getting His instructions. Hopefully God is speaking to you right now somehow through this teaching. God bless you and give you a very fruitful Christmas season.