Faces on Faith: A borrowed dad
Most Christmas messages refer to the familiar characters – Mary, the shepherds, the wise men, the angels, the innkeeper. But rarely is there a message about Joseph. Consider that God had to choose a man who was responsible for raising his own son. A rich man could provide for all his needs; a scholar would give him the best education; a king could give him power and position. But God chose Joseph for this task. Here was a man with no wealth, no educational achievements, no power, no genteel sheltered life – just a pair of hard, calloused hands and the skill of a village carpenter.
There were many things that Jesus borrowed in his lifetime, like the manger, a lunch from a boy, a donkey for his entry into Jerusalem, and a tomb for a brief burial place. But at the beginning of his life as a human, he borrowed a dad! You can read about it in Matthew 1:18-25. Joseph was a righteous man and this trait shows up in his treatment of Mary. A pregnancy out of wedlock was punishable by death, and at this point Joseph does not know that this child is of the Holy Spirit. But he protected her. Instead of asking, “How will this affect me?” he asked, “How will this affect Mary?”
It is hard to be sensitive to God’s plan when risk is involved, even the risk of your reputation! It’s hard when God’s plan doesn’t make sense to us, or is contrary to human reasoning. Joseph is a model for us, and it is apparent why God chose him to be a stepfather to his own Son. Four times in chapters one and two, God speaks to Joseph in a dream. In each case, Joseph responds with immediate obedience that involved risk, inconvenience, and breaking out of familiar ruts. As we look into his story, we find that there is not a single word recorded as spoken by him. Apparently he was the strong, silent type. Every time he receives a dream from God, he responds with immediate obedience. Not once did he question how or why; he just obeyed without hesitation.
There would be much busyness in that home in Nazareth as the years went by, but God provided a stepdad for Jesus through Joseph – a man he could trust! Can he trust us to listen to his words and obey?
The Rev. Dr. Stephen LeBar is the interim senior pastor at the Sanibel Community Church.