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Why Advent III: Why Joseph?

As we know from the word of God, Joseph is the adoptive father of Jesus, a carpenter by trade, a relatively poor man, and in many ways, just an average guy. So when we ask “why Joseph”, we are asking why the God of the universe chose to place His only-begotten Son under the care and protection of such a man. Matthew 1:18-25 points us to three reasons: Joseph’s character, lineage, and obedient faith.

The first thing we notice concerning Joseph is his response in v. 19 to the shocking news that his fiancee was pregnant. His initial reaction is to terminate the relationship in a way that brought the least shame upon Mary. The virtues Joseph demonstrated – justice, kindness, gentleness, boldness, and self-sacrifice – are virtues that make for a godly man, a good husband and father. These are things that God is looking for in His Son’s father, and He finds them in Joseph.

By choosing Joseph, then, God is exalting God’s own character displayed through Joseph. God gets special glory by choosing an earthly father who acts just like God Himself would act. The lesson for us is to pursue these same virtues in our lives: what should we do when faced with a terrible disappointment or a painful betrayal? Don’t seek vengeance or make it your mission to inflict humiliation and suffering. Deal with the matter quietly. Be willing to suffer on behalf of others.

The second thing mentioned in the text concerning Joseph is his lineage – he comes from the line of David, as the angel notes in vs. 20. This is a covenantal choice – God had made a covenant with David that a Messiah-King would come from David’s line and save His people. By choosing a Son of David, God gets for Himself the kind of glory that comes from keeping promises over hundreds of years and in spite of all kinds of obstacles. If Joseph were not of David’s line, these promises would fall to the ground, but God’s words never fall to the ground. This is why glory belongs to God, and there are two lessons for us in this:

First, trust God’s promises. God orchestrates everything that happens in the world in order to keep His promises to those who love Him. When God speaks, there is no place for doubt. His every word proves true. Second, be like that! Imitate God by keeping your promises. How far will you go so that your word is not broken? Whether it is a big thing like a marriage vow, or a small one like remembering to send that email you said you were going to, godliness means keeping your word.

The third thing to notice is Joseph’s obedient faith. Look at v.24-25 – as soon as Joseph woke up from the vision-sleep, he obeyed God and did what the angel commanded. He took Mary as his wife despite her hard-to-believe story, and when the child was born, he formally adopted him by being the one to name Him. Joseph named his son “Yahweh Saves” because he believed God’s words. Joseph’s actions demonstrate his faith.

It’s easy to see how God is glorified here: when Joseph obeys, his obedience honors God. His actions probably took a lot of explaining to friends and family, but his priorities are clear – come what may, he will obey and honor God. The lesson for us is obvious, too: trust and obey, especially when God tells us to believe, along with Joseph, that a virgin conceived a child by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that this child brought salvation to the world.

God knew that Joseph would leave a strong fatherly imprint on Jesus, and because God was Joseph’s father, the character of God had already formed Joseph in ways that God wanted Jesus to be shaped. So why Joseph? God wanted His Son to be a godly, obedient son of the covenant, and so He chose a faithful son of David to impart those qualities to Jesus.

Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 by CJ Bowen