God speaks: through unsung heroes.
As a society, we are impressed by famous people--actors, athletes, entertainers, various forms of celebrity, right? And yet, in the last couple of decades, we have begun to raise the banner for heroes in our midst -- especially when applied to those who sacrificed for others. Think of 9-11, the firefighters and policemen who rushed in, many who lost their lives in the process. There is our military stationed in far flung places, away from families and home, and then there are other quiet heroes who selflessly give to others who can give nothing in return. Unsung heroes. In recalling the people instrumental in the birth of the Savior, we have rightly honored and revered Mary; however, I do not think we have given Joseph his due. I mean, can you just imagine...?! He has just gotten betrothed to Mary--a much more binding relationship than our engagements before marriage--when he learns she is expecting a child. Maybe his thoughts went something like this: 'What in the world? and who could the man be in this tiny village? Should I follow the Law and disgrace her, even have her stoned? But how can I do that to my sweet Mary? Wait--my Mary or someone else's Mary? I love her, but apparently, she has been with another, as there is no other way she could be with child!' You simply have to feel for the man.
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An angel visited Joseph in a dream, which reminds me of the dreams an earlier Joseph had, Jacob's son, written about in the book of Genesis. He too would lead a different-than-he-would-have-expected life, a difficult life, but a life that would be for the saving of many.1 Interesting to note that the angel's first words to him were "Joseph, son of David..."2 There it is--just like Matthew had listed in his genealogy,3Joseph was a son of David, which was a fulfillment of prophecy Joseph likely knew...that the Messiah would be born from the line of David.4 The angel told Joseph not to be afraid to "take Mary as his wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."5 Okay, that is a lot. Joseph must have had sleepless nights as he knew the shame that he would bear, his good name and reputation forever tarnished--if he did what the angel told him, he would be marrying a pregnant Mary; no one would believe his story, not in his lifetime anyway. We do not know how many sleepless nights he endured or if he talked it over with anyone, but we do know what he did: He obeyed God. Rather than casting Mary aside, Joseph welcomed and loved her and the babe within her womb. Why did God choose Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus? Well one thing--he knew how Joseph would raise Jesus, along with the other children to come--in a God-fearing, reverent home. [God sees into a future we cannot, Friend] Besides that, I believe there are many other reasons--some that are stated, some obvious, others implied. First of all, Joseph was from the royal line of David. Second, Josephbelieved God and obeyed. He was humble and obedient to God, even though he knew how difficult it all would be. The scriptures tell us he was a righteous man, which means he followed the Law, was an observant Jew in all ways, so would raise a young Jesus in the scriptures, including observing the Jewish customs and feasts. We see from his response to Mary that he was loyal and compassionate. And finally, Joseph was very courageous. In Nazareth today, adjacent to the same property of the Basilica of the Annunciation, (next Morning Briefing), is Joseph's little home, perhaps where Jesus grew up (pictured). At the excavated site is also what is believed to be Joseph's workshop, the place where Joseph would have built with wood and stone, where he would have taught Jesus the same trade. We will be there in February!! Think of it, Joseph must have made the table under which our Lord's feet would have rested as he ate his evening meals-isn't that something to consider? Yeah, its true - there is no doubt that in part God chose Mary and he chose Joseph because they were humble and desired to live rightly before the Lord. Good, simple aims for you and me! But look again with me at the traits that we can ascribe to Joseph, based on what the scripture says. Joseph believed God and obeyed. He was humble and obedient to God. He was righteous, in the scriptures, loyal, compassionate and very courageous. Joseph was an unsung hero. God loves to use humble heroes and he often speaks through their lives. Listen to this great song: Joseph's song, Michael Card: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qKzgzO8ua4 O that we might be like Joseph~ Christine 1 - Genesis 50.20 2 - Matthew 1.20 3 - Matthew 1.16 4 - Isaiah 9.7 5 - Matthew 1.20-21