With Father’s Day approaching we think about the men who have played an important role in our lives. Not all of us were raised by our biological fathers, but most of us can think of a man who had a significant impact on who we are today. Even Jesus had a parental figure who was not his father. God chose Joseph, a humble carpenter, to be the earthly male influence for Jesus. Learn more about Joseph from the Every Man’s Bible.
The Man God Picked
What sort of man would God pick to rear his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world? Would the man have to wield great influence? Amass tremendous political power? Accumulate fantastic riches?
No, no and no. God’s requirements came down to these two items:
- He had to be a direct descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:16)
- He had to follow directions.
Joseph, a Jewish carpenter, fit both requirements. He traced his lineage to his famous forebear, King David (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 1:27), and he made it a habit to obey God in all matters, large or small.
Scripture doesn’t tell us a lot about Joseph. He comes on the scene abruptly at the beginning of the gospel story. We learn he is a “good” man (Matthew 1:19) and that he works as a carpenter (13:55). He plans to marry a young woman named Mary. But when he discovers that she is carrying someone else’s child, he decides to break the engagement quietly.
How did Joseph find out about the pregnancy? Did his fiancee tell him directly? Or did he hear the shocking news through friends or family? Did he wonder, Well, if God could send an angel to tell her, why couldn’t he other to send one to tell me?
Whatever the case, he made up his mind to distance himself from Mary. And then a second shock took place: God did let Joseph in on the divine secret. An angel appeared in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (1:20-21).
The angel offered no explanation. He gave no apology, no further instructions or communiques of any kind – and yet Joseph hurried to comply with God’s command. He immediately took Mary home to be his wife and name her son Jesus the moment he was born.
At least three other times Joseph got instructions from an angel in a dream, and all three times he immediately complied (2:13-15, 19-21, 22-23). Today’s readers might thing, Hey, if I got a message from an angel, I’d listen, too. Really? Not everyone in the Bible did. The might King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon ignored the dream God sent him (Daniel 4) – and wound up breakfasting with the bovines. The Roman governor of Jesus’ day, Pontius Pilate, ignored the dream God sent his wife (Matthew 17:19) – and ended up condemning to death the man God had sent to bring life. Joseph, however, leapt to do God’s bidding in both the “small” stuff (Luke 2:39, 41) and the “big.”
That’s the kind of man God looked for to rock his Son’s cradle. And it’s still the kind of man he seeks to rock the world.
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