I am continuing my series on the perspectives of Christmas by taking a look at Joseph who was betrothed to Mary. So far we have looked at Christmas from God’s perspective through the incarnation of Christ, the perspective of the shepherds, the perspective of the wise men, and what Christmas is about seen in the faith of Mary. Now it is time to look through the eyes of Joseph at all that was happening during the birth of Jesus. To me, Joseph is a prime biblical example of a godly stepfather.
Joseph And The Christmas Story
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Why is Joseph a good example of a biblical step parent?
Many people do not realize that Joseph was a step parent. Somehow it slips through our filtering system when looking at this story but Jesus was not Joseph’s biological child and as such, he is a step father to Jesus. I believe in this passage and from what we can infer from another passage, Joseph was a great example of what a godly step parent should be like. So let’s take a look and find out what we can learn about Joseph’s heart towards Jesus and how we can apply that to our own lives.
- Joseph wanted to do what was right but with a spirit of compassion. In verse 19 we see that Joseph was a good man and was just going to break off the engagement quietly and not put Mary to shame. It was Joseph’s right under Old Testament law to have her stoned. However this was not his heart. He was a compassionate man. He didn’t want to condone what had happened but he also did not want to punish her. Here we see the fine balance between justice and mercy. He was doing what was right with the information that he had, but he also was not using Mary’s perceived failure as an opportunity to exact vengeance. Why do I say vengeance? Think about how hurt and betrayed Joseph must have felt? This was, in his eyes, proof of infidelity and unfaithfulness. It was a broken promise, and unkept vow.
- Joseph was obedient to the Lord even if it brought personal sacrifice and humiliation. In verse 24 we see that Joseph was obedient to the instructions he received by an angel in a dream. Now we need to remember that this was going to make him look like he was willing to marry a sinful woman. He was marrying a perceived fornicator. This was going to cost him with public humiliation. He was going to “lose face” so to say. Secondly he was going to have to wait to consummate the marriage until after Jesus was born in order for Mary to stay a virgin until the birth of Jesus. Not only was he asked to be chaste prior to marriage, but he was asked to be chaste even after marriage! How many men are willing to do that? His obedience to God cost him both public humiliation and a huge exercise in self control and discipline.
- Joseph treated Jesus as one of his own. Take a look at how the public viewed Jesus and his relationship with Joseph. Matthew 13:55 Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. The public viewed Jesus as the son of Joseph. They didn’t view him as the step son, or illegitimate son but as Joseph’s son. This was a man who took on the responsibility of raising a child who was not his own out of his love for the child’s mother and in obedience to God. I know what it is to be a step child and to be treated as unwanted from the heart. It was not a fun feeling nor was it right. It was not my fault I didn’t come from my step father’s loins. I was the innocent party in the whole thing. When I was asked by God to raise a son who did not come from my loins, I did my best to make him just as much a part of my family and a son in my eyes and everyone else’s. In February I have the privilege of going to his wedding as his dad. He is my son.
So as you can see, Joseph was a pretty stand up guy. We can learn a lot from Joseph and why God picked him to be the earthly parent to Jesus. I would encourage all of you father, whether you are step fathers or biological fathers, to step up to the plate as Joseph did and balance justice with mercy, become obedient at any cost, and be the type of man that invests what you have into the lives of your children.
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