A humble carpenter who lived a quiet life, Joseph said nothing that was recorded in Scripture. Yet God chose Him to be the earthly father of the Messiah. On this episode of Turning Point, Dr. David Jeremiah takes a closer look at Joseph and the important responsibilities that he accepted as Jesus’s protector, teacher and role model.
Joseph was the man who was chosen to be the adoptive father of our Lord, the one who would protect the infancy of the Saviour of the world. In the Word of God, Joseph stands silent. He is spoken to. He is spoken about. But not a single syllable crosses his lips. He is viewed by many people at best as just a bit player in the Christmas drama.
Joseph discovers Mary’s Baby
According to Matthew’s genealogy, Joseph was a royal person. He was a potential king. Yet we know very little about him. He appears on the scene for just a moment, and then he disappears. The only other time he is mentioned in the life of Our Lord is when 12-year-old Jesus was inadvertently left in Jerusalem. After that, Joseph is not mentioned again in the entire New Testament.
‘Everything for Joseph changed so dramatically that he could never again be the same,’ says David. ‘After Gabriel had announced to Mary that she would conceive by the Holy Spirit and bear the Messiah, Mary left town. The Bible says she left with haste. She didn’t tell Joseph about her visit from the angel. Luke 1:39-40 says Mary arose in those days and went into the hill county to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth, who was her relative, knowing that she was to be the mother of our Lord.’
Surely there was a moment when Mary tried to explain to Joseph about the Angel Gabriel in the message concerning the Messiah. But how do you explain something like that? The woman was treated by everyone as though she were already married. The betrothal had been signed, gifts had been made. Friends and relatives in general knew that Joseph and Mary were engaged. And then Joseph discovers Mary’s baby.
Joseph took counsel in his Heart
‘Mary’s situation was so incredible to Joseph,’ says David. ‘He considered all the options that were his based on the customs of his day. One of the slanders of the early Christians was that Jesus was born out of wedlock. They cited Joseph’s failure to report it to the authorities. Mary’s pregnancy was their evidence of this. Matthew does not deny that Mary had become pregnant before her marriage to Joseph was consummated. Matthew tells us that Joseph desired to shield Mary from shameful exposure and was willing to quietly divorce her.’
But before Joseph had time to take any action, he was instructed in a dream that he should not be afraid to take Mary to be his wife. All that raced through Joseph’s mind when he first learnt of Mary’s condition will never be known. Joseph gave this mature consideration. He still loved Mary and didn’t want her to be exposed to the criticism and perhaps even to the penalty.
‘Mary was a godly woman,’ says David. ‘Joseph knew that she would never have violated her purity and their engagement agreement. He was left with the option that Mary had been chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah, just as she had said. Joseph was a devout man, a Hebrew, and, as he reasoned concerning this manner in his head, he would ponder the fact that Messiah was to be born of the House of David. And the Bible says he took counsel within himself.’
Knowing what Mary had been asked to do, Joseph might easily have thought that marriage to this woman now would be considered an unholy act. But God had made a special vessel of this noble Hebrew woman that he loved, and he would not interfere with the purposes of God. He would set Mary aside so that all the purposes of God could be fulfilled in her.
Joseph was Obedient
‘The Bible says that while Joseph was trying to sort all of this out in his mind,’ says David, ‘sleep overtook him and he began to dream. Joseph’s dream about Mary’s baby is then recorded for us. Behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Spirit.’
‘Have you ever been caught between what God says and what makes sense? Joseph didn’t let his confusion disrupt his obedience. He didn’t know everything, but he did what he knew.’
‘And God made sure that everything in His Divine Plan would be carried out.’