Who would you trust?
If you were God—you’re not nor am I—but imagine what it would be like for God to consider who He would entrust as a father for His newborn Son.
We live in a world where trust appears as a fragile virtue—when trust is scarce. But the world is not so different now, in that sense, as when Jesus was born almost 2000 years ago.
Israel—God’s people—were a nation under occupation by the powerful pagan Roman empire, including its ruthless soldiers.
Not so special
Look at the attention given to the British Royal family and the Queen’s grandchildren! We might expect a lot more attention and fanfare for the birth of God’s only Son (John 1:14). But it wasn’t so.
A remarkable facet of the Christmas story is how the birth of Jesus took place.
No special national attention was given to His birth until two years later (Matthew 2:1–12). And that attention proved to be tragic (Matt 2:16–18).
Sure, there was an awesome angelic announcement outside of Bethlehem (Luke 2:8, 14), but who heard it? A group of nomadic—not-so-clean nor trustworthy—shepherds. They were not people of honorable status.
Shepherds were the equivalent of the old range cowboys of America — not exactly who you’d want your daughter to marry. Not quite the royal announcement you’d expect for the birth of the King of Kings!
No ordinary man
One of the fascinating parts of the Christmas story to me is the father of the Savior of the world. Actually, Joseph was the stepfather (Luke 1:26–38).
This is made clear by Joseph’s initial plan when he heard his bride-to-be was pregnant. He knew it wasn’t his child. But here’s where the story takes an unexpected turn.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, but before they married, she learned she was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Because Mary’s husband, Joseph, was a good man, he did not want to disgrace her in public, so he planned to divorce her secretly. (Matt 1:18–19 NCV)
Joseph was not an ordinary man. At first, he may appear ordinary, as a carpenter from a small town in northern Palestine (Israel). What makes Joseph extraordinary is the trust God places in him.
Joseph was a trustworthy man
Consider Joseph the man
The first thing I notice is Joseph’s character. He was “a good man.” Other Bible versions use the words just, righteous, upright, and honorable to describe Joseph. He had integrity. The kind of character God could trust.
Joseph was a compassionate and humble man
When Joseph finds out Mary—the woman he is legally promised to marry—is pregnant, he doesn’t want to publicly disgrace her. Though it was humiliating, he wasn’t vindictive. He still loved his wife-to-be.
Joseph was spiritually perceptive
His plan to quietly divorce Mary is interrupted by a dream. In the dream, an angel of the Lord informs Joseph what’s taking place.
While Joseph thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit.
She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” (Matt 1:20–23 NCV)
Consider this remarkable message to Joseph
Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit, not another man
Joseph is to go forward with the marriage
The child will be a son, to be named Jesus, because He will be a Savior
This was planned by God long ago
The Son’s name means “God is with us”
A final insight into Joseph’s trustworthiness is his response to all of this.
Joseph responded in faith to the message from God’s angel
When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do. Joseph took Mary as his wife, but he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the son. And Joseph named him Jesus. (Matt 1:24–25 NCV)
Joseph takes Mary as his wife
He accepts and bears the scandalous appearance of illegitimacy
He abstains from sexual relations with Mary until after the child’s birth
He names the child Jesus
Joseph was a faithful and responsible man
More to the story
There is more to the story, of course, but you can read it yourself. The story of Christmas is found in the first two chapters of both the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Joseph’s qualities as a man — good character, compassion and humility, spiritual perception, and faithfulness — add up to a trustworthy man.
These are qualities to be admired in any man
God is still looking for men like Joseph. Men who are trustworthy to bring the message of God’s redemption to a dark, insecure, and untrusting world.
This Christmas, think about the man to whom God entrusted as a father to care for His Son — the Savior of the world.
The Savior — crucified and risen, now seated in power in heaven — will transform any person who puts their trust in Him above all.
God is still looking for men like Joseph who are trustworthy
Are you willing to become a person like Joseph?
Personal Application Question
Which of Joseph’s virtues do you most identify with and which one do you least identify with—his integrity of character, compassion, humility, spiritual perception, faithfulness, or his trust in God?