Joseph, the father of Jesus, has always been one of the people in the Bible that have intrigued me. There’s not much written about him, but he played such an integral role in the story of our salvation. Outside of Jesus, we tend to focus on Mary when we think of the birth of Christ rather than Joseph. We’ll look at her role tomorrow. For today, I want to spend some time looking into the man who would shape the man Jesus would become.
Joseph is mentioned in all four Gospels, but not a word of what he ever said was recorded. I’ve always heard it said that “actions speak louder than words.” If that’s the case, then Joseph speaks volumes. Here’s a man who is engaged to the woman he loves and finds out from her that she’s pregnant. He knows it’s not his. Instead of blowing up and making a big scene, he thinks his response through and decides to handle things quietly so as not to disgrace her publicly. He had every right to have her stoned to death, but he chose not to.
While he was still reeling from the news, an angel visited him and explained that the baby was indeed conceived by God. In Matthew 1:21, Joseph received some amazing news. Not only would he be the earthly father of the Messiah, he would be the one to name Him. God reserved that honor just for Joseph. In verse 24, it says, “When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel commanded.” He didn’t question or argue with God. He simply obeyed at the risk of looking like he had gotten her pregnant before marriage. He took the shame that would have been Mary’s and provided a covering so that Jesus would be born.
The next time we read about Joseph is when the wise men left for home. The angel came back to him at night and said, “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother. Stay there until I tell you to return (Matthew 2:13 NLT).” The next verse says that during the night Joseph left for Egypt. He didn’t even wait until dawn or for Jesus to wake up. He obeyed immediately. Again, he never questioned the angel or God’s plan. He simply obeyed. He was a man of action when it came to obeying the voice of God. I think that’s just who he was as a person too. He was a hard worker, a man who feared God and a man who heard from God.
Joseph heard from the angel one more time. Again, it was at night and the angel said, “Get up! Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel.” Joseph woke everyone up, packed and headed out before sunrise. He simply obeyed what the angel spoke to him. Mary didn’t argue with him over waking her and the baby up to leave. She knew that he was a man of obedience to God. When he told her God spoke to him, she trusted him. She was obedient as well. Simple obedience is what God desires from each one of us. I believe that’s why Joseph was chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus. It’s a trait that Jesus would see modeled in Joseph and later practiced when He went to the cross. You’ll recall that Jesus said, “Not my will be done, but yours.”
Our lives are built around following our own will. They’re built on doing what’s right for ourselves and making ourselves look good in the eyes of others. Those things are the opposite of what being obedient to God is all about. Joseph was a man of simple obedience. He was a man of few words. A man of action. We could learn a lot from this silent hero in the Bible if we just took some time to listen to his actions. The next time God asks you to do something out of the ordinary or that could paint you in a negative light, will you argue with Him or answer in simple obedience? You won’t have to say a thing. Your actions will speak louder than words.