Actions speak louder than words. Perhaps that is why God chose Joseph to be the human father of Jesus. Joseph is often called the “Silent Partner of the Incarnation.” He is the original “silent type” for not a word that Joseph ever spoke is recorded for us in the Bible. But although Joseph’s words are not recorded it is his actions that make him a truly “righteous man” (Matthew 1:19). Joseph’s walk talks louder than his talk talks. Joseph’s life helps us answer the age old question: “What kind of a man does God use?
GOD USES MEN WITH CHARACTER
Joseph, like Mary, had no idea what God’s plans were for them. They had fallen in love and were engaged to be married. They had maintained the purity of their relationship and trusted in God’s morality. God, however, had picked them BOTH to be Jesus’ earthly parents. Mary, of course, becomes pregnant supernaturally, whilst Joseph is chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus.
Joseph was undoubtedly a poor, hardworking man and was quite shocked to hear of Mary’s pregnancy. By right, in his legalistic culture, he could have disgraced Mary or even stoned her to death but the text clearly states that is not what he wanted to do! Joseph’s “righteousness” meant that he was “merciful.” Instead of the legalistic law of the Pharisees the truly righteous follow the spirit of the law – Love! In picking Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus, God is making a powerful statement about legalism. The character of the man God uses must be one filled with authentic, loving, mercy.
It’s interesting to not read any immediate objections from Joseph. After all, Joseph seems to have every excuse in the book to side step this mountain of responsibility that was not being thrust upon him. But rather than skirt responsibility Joseph embraces it. As soon as he awakes from the dream Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him” (Matthew 1:24). There was no hesitation in Joseph’s obedience.
The testimony of great men and women of faith is that they simply obey God. The overarching character of those that God uses is that they are go-getters. They are active in ministry just like Joseph was.
GOD USED MEN WITH COMMITMENT
The Bible introduces us to Joseph as a man who is weighing his options. What should he do with Mary and this child? That same question has been asked by many for generations. What should I do with this Jesus? Should I believe this record of a virgin birth? Joseph doubted. He doubted the purity of his betrothed bride. He doubted the veracity of the message he was now receiving from angels. In the midst of all these doubts God brings to Joseph the calmness of faith. Here God steps in and does the miraculous – “Behold a virgin shall conceive!” Joseph chooses to believe and not to doubt!
Joseph is also introduced to us as “the Son of David” (Matthew 1:20). Joseph would have known his genealogy well. In fact, he could have walked through the temple and seen his family tree ascribed in the temple courts. He could go back in his family tree and know that he was of the tribe of Judah and of the descent of the royal line of David. Now he is being told by an angel that the son who is going to claim that throne is not his physical son. There is a dream that is somehow being skewed in Joseph’s mind.
So people ask, “Was Joseph alive when Jesus was on the cross?” After all we don’t see him there. I would say that Joseph was absolutely not alive when Jesus came to the cross. For when Israel waved their palm branches at Jesus it was the day that they could receive their king. Jesus now was the only one with the claim to the throne of David. Joseph had to pass that along.
Joseph’s personal dreams are put aside for this Christ-child and his doubts are turned to faith. No wonder the Spirit of God says he is a “just man.” You will never please the Lord until the Lord absolves you of your doubts and your dreams and allows you to see that His directions are always better than yours.
GOD USES MEN WHO LEAVE THEIR COMFORT ZONE
In Matthew 2:13-15 the angel appears to Joseph a second time and instructs him. God’s will for Joseph and Mary has now been revealed and His will was for them to take the child, Jesus, into a place that’s well beyond their comfort zones. God’s will for them is to accompany the Savior into Egypt. It’s doubtful that Joseph and Mary had ever been to this place called Egypt. This was not a place that the Jewish people looked at as a Christian resort. But when God calls you to boldly step out for Him He never leavens you alone. His commission always comes with provision. In Matthew 2:11 the wise men had brought gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Those wisemen brought provision that no doubt would be used by Joseph when he went down into Egypt.
The third time the angel came to Joseph (Matthew 2:29-23) he once again was commissioning Joseph to leave his comfort zone. Now Joseph is told he can bring the child out of Egypt. Where do you think he is going to want to go? He definitely wouldn’t have wanted to go to Nazareth, all the familiar people up there weren’t real receptive of Mary’s pregnancy news the first time. Remember how there were murmurings back there.
This third message from the angel was perhaps the hardest one to obey. The plan of God was for Joseph to go home. Back to Nazareth where those heads would wag and those tongues would tell tales that would cause Mary’s honor to be put upon. They wouldn’t understand in Nazareth. They would mock.
Dear Christian friend, would the Spirit of God speak to your heart and challenge you to leave your comfort zone? Get out of your bubble and boldly proclaim the Good News this Christmas! Take Him to places that are unknown to you (like Egypt). Take Him to places where the people may mock you (like Nazareth). The Good News of Christmas is that Christ was born and people need to hear that He was born for them!
Joseph is a clear example of the fact that actions speak louder than words. Although Joseph’s words are not recorded for us in the Bible we can still confidently conclude that God used Him. Would God use you this Christmas season? He will if you have the kind of character and commitment that causes you to step out of your comfort zone for Him.
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