In the parable of the prodigal son,
we tend to overlook a very important character – the elder son.
The truth is, he probably should be the lead actor.
Yet we focus on the younger son because his actions are so in-your-face.
The Christmas story – the real reason for Christmas –
has someone in it we can easily overlook, too.
His name is Joseph.
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, verses 18-25
and in chapter 2 of Luke,
we have pretty much all the information we know about Joseph.
But we can glean a lot from these few verses.
Joseph was a young man who was betrothed to Mary.
Betrothal isn’t a concept we really understand.
It was a legal, binding contract of marriage,
although the wedding had not yet taken place.
In the eyes of the law, they were husband and wife
and to break this contract required divorce.
In our day of nearly no morals,
we barely flinch at a woman pregnant outside of marriage.
But in those days, this was a terrible disgrace.
The Law allowed for those caught in adultery to be stoned to death;
at the very least to be publicly humiliated.
Yet, we find Joseph was a “just man” who wanted to protect Mary, his betrothed.
He decided to quietly divorce her to save her from being made a public example.
Think how hurt Joseph must have been.
I believe he truly loved Mary.
His actions certainly express that to me.
He had to have felt betrayed and embarrassed and defeated.
But he thought of her and her welfare, not just his own.
When the angel shared the news of her pregnancy with him,
Joseph immediately did as the angel commanded him.
He didn’t hesitate.
He didn’t form a committee to hash it out.
He didn’t rant and rave.
He simply obeyed.
From his obedience, we see his heart for God.
He trusted God enough to do something that would cost him.
The Scripture tells us that Joseph did not “know” his wife, Mary, until after Jesus was born.
In other words, they had no sexual relations from the time he brought her into his home
until after she gave birth to her first son whom they obediently named Jesus.
They were legally wed.
He was a young man in love.
Yet he restrained his physical needs in obedience to God.
That restraint is sorely missing as we watch more and more people,
many of whom claim to be followers of Christ,
casually participate in sexual activity outside of the bonds of marriage.
Living together before marriage has almost become the expected.
Yet God hasn’t changed His view on that idea.
To Him, it is still disobedience.
I recently heard someone share this:
Women move in with their boyfriends because they want to take the relationship to the next level.
Men do it because they want the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities.
Now, I know some of you will take offense at this,
but you will find it is full of much truth if you will really think it through.
Where are the Joseph’s;
those willing to forfeit their desires for God’s desires?
I don’t know what the normal procedure was for child-birth in those days,
but somehow I don’t think it was the husband who usually delivered the child.
Yet Joseph delivered Jesus.
He was 100% there for Mary.
Wow! Joseph delivered the Son of God!
I can’t imagine what went through his thoughts that night.
When dirty, smelly shepherds showed up at the stable,
was he afraid for his little family?
How did he know it was okay to let them come in and share their story?
This definitely wasn’t a typical marriage and birth!!!
In every incident in which we see Joseph, we see obedience.
They had Jesus circumcised on the 8th day as the Law required.
After the 40 days of Mary’s purification,
they went to the temple, presented their male offspring as holy to the Lord
and made the required sacrifice.
Had they decided to disobey and do their own thing that day,
they would have missed Simeon’s prophecy about Jesus.
Luke 2 tells us that both Mary and Joseph marveled at what they heard.
We know so little about Mary and Joseph.
I think that’s on purpose.
We do know Joseph was there to see the Magi worship
Jesus as the King and present Him gifts.
We know he obeyed God again by taking his family to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod.
And he was there when Jesus was 12 and stayed behind in Jerusalem without their knowledge.
Yet, he’s missing once Jesus begins His earthly ministry.
Sometime between 12 and 30, Jesus felt the grief of losing His father.
Joseph and Mary were given huge responsibilities as the ones
chosen to rear God in the flesh.
I think of how Joseph loved his family and provided for them
with hands that formed beautiful things out of pieces of wood.
Jesus followed in his father’s footsteps as a carpenter Himself.
Obviously, Joseph’s life was short and filled with much pain and suffering.
But the joy that must have filled his heart as he listened to the
voice of God and obediently followed it.
True joy and true peace come only through true obedience.
God became flesh and dwelt among us.
Jesus was born to die so that we might live.
His life was short and one of pain and suffering, too.
But He was obedient, even unto death.
What is God calling you to do?
What is there in your life that you know is outside His will,
yet you hold onto it with tight fists?
Have you tried many, many ways to fill the emptiness in your heart,
but nothing seems to fill it?
There is a place in every heart that only Jesus can fill.
Why don’t you ask Him to fill that place
and let Him be the King of your life.
As you walk in obedience to Him, you will find a peace and joy
that can’t be explained and that remains even in the most difficult of times.
God is looking for some Joseph’s.
Lots of love, Sharon