Have you ever felt like you’d be the unlikely choice? That if you were the one picking the lineup, maybe you’d just pick someone else? Many of the people, chosen by God in Scripture felt that way too. And yet, God used them. He loves to pick people who seem the unlikely pick by the world’s standards because He doesn’t work within the means of the world.
There is no better place to see this than the Christmas Story, and through the first two years of Jesus’ life. Let us meet, truly meet, those He met in His earliest days on Earth. We will be spending most of our time in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
First, let our discussion start with Joseph, the man who isn’t usually talked about, but should be because despite not being who everyone had envisioned to be the early father to the Messiah. Everyone expected a King, a rich and powerful ruler. Instead, God picked an ordinary man according to historic times and ours, but not ordinary to God.
Scripture is rich with the meaning of names, and it is no mistake that the name Joseph means “May he add.” For certainly, he does.
A common man, but from the lineage of Kings. The line of David (the chosen King of the people). Joseph connected King David to the Messiah through the pieces of twenty-eight generations.
So, what do we know about Joseph?
He had lineage with King David, this fulfilling the prophecy found in 2 Samuel 7:12-13.
He was pledged to be married to a young woman named Mary (who God had chosen to be the mother of Jesus). He was known to be faithful to the law (Matthew 1:19a), and yet he was gracious. As Matthew 1:19 tells us, when he found out Mary was pregnant, he wanted to divorce her quietly. He knew the law well enough to know what could have happened to her. At this time betrothal meant they had given binding vows, although they had yet to live together as man and wife. This means in the eyes of the law that Mary had committed adultery and if proven, the punishment under Mosaic law would be stoning. Joseph did not want to falsely claim the baby as his own, but he also had grace in his heart to see that Mary and her child would live.
But even this, a graceful and quiet divorce isn’t the Christmas story we know, because God sends an angel and we see the fulfillment of another prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, that says “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call Him, Immanuel.”
When Joseph woke from the dream, he did just as he had been told (Matthew 1:20-25), taking Mary as his wife and naming the baby, Jesus (Luke 2:21). Joseph was the man chosen to help raise the Savior of the World.
What kind of pressure do you think Joseph felt?
For a moment, let us consider who Joseph wasn’t. He wasn’t the man the people of God expected to have this responsibility. He wasn’t who the world or the Hebrews would have chosen. But he was God’s choice, and he was more than his lineage. Sure, he fit the bill to help fulfill prophecies, but God knew his heart. He knew his faithfulness and kindness. He knew his inward being. Joseph was chosen by God.
It is good to note that in Luke 3:23, Jesus was thought to be the son of Joseph by the people. It wasn’t until the moment of John baptizing Him that God reveals Him as the Son of God. From Joseph’s perspective, imagine having to keep the secret of Jesus’ birth! Imagine being chosen for this role. Imagine helping the Savior at his most vulnerable moments as a baby and child. Imagine teaching him your own trade, carpentry. Imagine knowing the weight He would bear. Imagine the anxiety and panic, and pressure that must have been felt to keep Him safe.
I have always found it interesting that Mary lives to see Jesus at the cross and resurrection, but Joseph didn’t. Scripture doesn’t say exactly when Joseph dies, but it appears it was before Jesus began his ministry and before the time of the cross and resurrection. Scripture does not mention him after Jesus was 12 years old. Scripture paints a picture of Jesus’ family (as in John 2:12, Luke 8:20, etc.) when we see Mary and his brothers; like James who would later write the book of James in the New Testament.
We might not know many details surrounding Joseph, but we know the most important aspects God looks for in His people, a willing and obedient heart. Faithfulness, and this we can know that since God chose this man – he must have been extremely faithful.
God loves to choose the unlikely, instead of a King for the earthly father of the Messiah – God picked a simple man who loved God! Of course, it makes sense. A man after God’s own heart just like the patriarch of his lineage, King David.