Read Matthew 1: 16 - 2:23; Luke 1:26 - 2:52 (NLT)
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 60189. All rights reserved.
The strength of what we believe is measured by how much we are willing to suffer for those beliefs. Joseph was a man with strong beliefs. He was prepared to do what was right, despite the pain he knew it would cause. But Joseph had another trait. He not only tried to do what was right, he also tried to do it in the right way.
When Mary told Joseph about her pregnancy, Joseph knew the child was not his. His respect for Mary's character and the explanation she gave him, as well as her attitude toward the expected child must have made it hard to think his bride had done something wrong. Still, someone else was the child's father -- and it was mind boggling to accept that the "someone else" was God.
Joseph decided he had to break the engagement, but he was determined to do it in a way that would not cause public shame to Mary. He intended to act with justice and love.
At this point, God sent a messenger to Joseph to confirm Mary's story and open another way of obedience for Joseph -- to take Mary as his wife. Joseph obeyed God, married Mary, and honored her virginity until the baby was born.
We do not know how long Joseph lived his role as Jesus' earthly father -- he is last mentioned when Jesus was 12 years old. But Joseph trained his son in the trade of carpentry; made sure he had good spiritual training in Nazareth, and took the whole family on the yearly trip to Jerusalem for the Passover, which Jesus continued to observe during his adult years.
Joseph knew Jesus was someone special from the moment he heard the angel's words. His strong belief in that fact and his willingness to follow God's leading empowered him to be Jesus' chosen earthly father.
Joseph's strengths and accomplishments: 1) A man of integrity 2) A descendant of King David 3) Jesus' legal and earthly father 4) a person sensitive to God's guidance and willing to do God's will no matter what the consequences.
Lessons from his life: 1) God honors integrity 2) Social position is of little importance when God chooses to use us. 3) Being obedient to the guidance we have from God leads to more guidance from him 4) Feelings are not accurate measures of the rightness or wrongness of an action.
Vital statistics: Where: Nazareth, Bethlehem Occupation: Carpenter Relatives: Wife: Mary Children: Jesus, James Joses, Judas, Simon, and daughters Contemporaries: Herod the Great, John the Baptist, Simon, Anna
Key verses: "Joseph, her fiance, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly. As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. 'Joseph, son of David,' the angel said, 'do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit'." (Matthew 1:19,20) (NLT)
Dear Lord, thank you for the faithfulness and devotion of a man like Joseph. Thank you for the men of today who follow in his footsteps. Amen!