Mary, Baby Jesus, angels, shepherds, the Star and the manger mostly stole the spotlight in the Nativity scene while Joseph moved about as a shadowy figure in the picture. We haven't heard of any carol sung about him or a song equivalent to " Mary , do you know your Baby boy," that asked Joseph what he thought about bringing up the Christ Child as his own baby boy.
What a tremendous responsibility and high expectation were placed upon his shoulders,yet no one bothered to write a song pondering about Joseph's situations. I hadn't given much thought to him either until my pastor focused his entire sermon on Joseph on last Sunday.
Joseph was no ordinary man as we assume him to be. According to Gospel of Mathew 1:19, he was a righteous man, meaning he stood right with God. Because he stood right with God, he had the wisdom to do the right thing at the right time.
Any other man in his shoes would have dragged Mary to a public place to be stoned to death no sooner he heard about her pregnancy from Mary's own mouth. But Joseph chose not to do that. That showed how much he must have loved and trusted Mary enough to not to disgrace her publicly. He could have easily cleared his name and protected his reputation by condemning Mary with adultery.
If Joseph chose to marry the pregnant Mary, his community would definitely spit on his face for impregnating a virgin before marriage. No one would have bought Mary's story of angel appearing to her and she becoming pregnant by the power of Holy Spirit. Joseph was sure of facing the scorn of his parents as well as Mary's parents. His also faced the risk of losing his business customers and his livelihood for the sake of his support for Mary. From every angle Joseph must have foreseen the humiliation and rejection from his people.
Gone were the nights, which he spent on dreaming of the wonderful life he was going to have with Mary and the dream house he was planning to build. All those dreams must have got shattered when Mary broke the news of her pregnancy to him. Now, he had to come up with another plan to get out of the marriage without dragging Mary's reputation in the mud. So, he decided to divorce her quietly,
His new plan didn't work either, for an angel of the Lord interrupted his sleep in a dream and told him what he need to do next. It wasn't what Joseph planned to do. Yet, he was willing to change his plans and act according to God's plans. No wonder God chose no other man, but Joseph to bring up His only begotten Son down here on earth. Joseph was a righteous and obedient man of God, a perfect role model for Jesus to grow up under his roof.
The Bible also records that Joseph had no union with his wife Mary until she gave birth to God's Son Jesus. Yes, Joseph honored Mary's hallowed call on her life and let go of his husband right. He put Mary's purity and comfort before his need and pleasure. No husband would want to make that decision on his wedding day. Yet, Joseph did. By doing so, he stood taller than any other man in honor. No wonder, God chose no other man, but Joseph to be the earthly father to love and bring up baby Jesus to manhood.
When the call came to him in a dream to take his wife and baby to Egypt, Joseph raised no question. Later, when he was commanded to go back home, he acted at once. His trust in God must had been so strong and steadfast, he showed no hesitance whenever God asked him to do something. It's no surprise that the eyes of the Lord which are on the righteous chose Joseph to be the perfect father to bring up Jesus on earth.
Mary, the highly favored one was called the blessed one among women, and Joseph was called the righteous man. Both had a high calling in their lives to raise God's Son in a loving and healthy environment and both did their part well in raising boy Jesus to become what His heavenly Father intended Him to be.
What a great couple, what a strong marriage and what a holy family to remember during this Christmas season! Yes, no one wrote or sang a song, " Joseph, did you know that the Baby in the manger would one day raise the dead and make the blind see?" Yet, that doesn't diminish the important role Joseph played in the greatest story ever told on earth-the birth of Jesus.
(Published in Precious Moments on 12/23/2010)