Trustworthy Joseph

Trustworthy Joseph—The man to whom God entrusted His Son

If you were God—neither you nor I am, or ever will be—but imagine what it would be like for God to consider who He would entrust as a father for His newborn Son. We live in a world where trust appears as a fragile virtue—trust is scarce.

When Jesus was born almost 2000 years ago, Israel—God’s chosen people—was a nation under occupation by the powerful pagan Roman empire, including its ruthless soldiers. It was not a safe world to be born into. It was a world where trust was scarce.

A fascinating aspect of the birth of Jesus is the lack of fanfare accompanying the Lord’s birth. Look at the attention given to the British Royal family when their children and grandchildren are born! We might expect a lot more attention and fanfare for the birth of God’s only Son. But it wasn’t so.

Another remarkable facet of the Christmas story is how the birth of Jesus took place. No special national attention was given to His birth until two years later (Matthew 2:1–12). And that turned out to be a tragedy (Matt 2:16–18).

Sure, there was an awesome angelic announcement outside of Bethlehem (Luke 2:8, 14), but who heard it? A group of nomadic—not-so-clean or trustworthy—shepherds. They were not people of honorable status. Shepherds were the equivalent of the old-range cowboys of America—not exactly who you’d want your daughter to marry. Not quite the royal announcement you’d expect for the birth of the King of Kings!

No ordinary man

One of the fascinating parts of the Christmas story for me is the father of the Savior of the world. But, in truth, Joseph was the stepfather (Luke 1:26–38). This is made clear by Joseph’s initial plan when he heard his bride-to-be was pregnant. He knew it wasn’t his child. But here’s where the story takes an unexpected turn.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. (Matt 1:18–19)

Joseph was not an ordinary man. At first, he may appear ordinary, as a carpenter from a small town in northern Palestine (Israel). What makes Joseph extraordinary is the trust God places in him. Joseph was a trustworthy man.

The first thing I notice is Joseph’s character. He was “a good man.” Other Bible versions use the words just, righteous, upright, and honorable to describe Joseph. He had integrity. The kind of character God could trust. He was a compassionate and humble man.

When Joseph finds out Mary—whom he is legally betrothed to marry—is pregnant, he doesn’t want her to go through public disgrace. Though it was humiliating, he wasn’t vindictive. He still loved his wife-to-be.

Joseph’s plan to divorce Mary quietly is interrupted by a dream. In the dream, an angel of the Lord informs Joseph of what’s taking place. Joseph was spiritually perceptive. Here is the message given in the Gospel of Matthew.

But while he thought about these things, 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.  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matt 1:20–23)

Consider all that is said in this remarkable message to Joseph. He is told that Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit, not another man, and that Joseph is to go forward with the marriage (they were legally betrothed).

Joseph is told that the child will be a son, to be named Jesus because He will be a Savior. God planned this long ago and foretold it through His prophet Isaiah, including the truth that He will be “God with us.”

An important insight into Joseph’s trustworthiness is his response to all of this. Joseph responded in faith to the message from God’s angel.

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus. (Matt 1:24–25)

Joseph took Mary as his wife. He accepted and bore the scandalous appearance of illegitimacy. He also abstains from sexual relations with Mary until after the child’s birth. When the child is born, he names him Jesus. Joseph was a faithful and responsible man.

Of course, there is much more to the story, but you can read it yourself. We find the story of Christmas in the first two chapters of both the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Consider what’s revealed to us about Joseph’s qualities as a trustworthy man. Joseph was a compassionate and humble man. He was spiritually perceptive and a man of faith. We know Joseph was a dependable man because he was obedient to God’s direction. We can see how Joseph was a man of moral and trustworthy character.

These are qualities to be admired in any man. God is still looking for men like Joseph. Men who are trustworthy and who will bring the message of God’s redemption to a dark, insecure, and untrusting world.

This Christmas, think about the man God entrusted as a father to care for His Son—the world’s Savior. The Savior who was crucified and risen from the dead and now seated in power in heaven. 

Jesus can transform any man, any person, who put their trust in Him above all. God is still looking for trustworthy men like Joseph. Are you willing to become a person like Joseph?

Photo credit– Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

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