Friday, December 3, 2010

The Advent - Joseph

Matthew 1:24 - 25  "When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son.  And he gave him the name Jesus."

Joseph.  What an amazing man.  We could use some good men like him these days.  Men of integrity.  Men of courage.  Men of God.

Joseph was living his life.  He was engaged to be married to Mary.  He was probably looking forward to starting a family and growing old with his wife.  He lays down to sleep one night and instead of restful sleep, he gets an angel.  An angel sent to him in a dream.  An angel that will turn his world upside down.  The angel tells him Mary is pregnant.  And not just pregnant - pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  The angel tells him she will have a son and that his name is to be called Jesus.

Now I don't know about you, but I am someone who dreams.  A lot.  Vivid and in color.  I suppose I get this from my mom.  She did the same thing.  But not once ever have I had a dream like Joseph's.  Can you imagine?  God chooses YOU to send an angel to.  And so God chooses Joseph.

While at first glimpse it seems a wonderful honor to be chosen by God (and it is), take a closer look at what this call on Joseph would mean...

Joseph has been told that the woman he is to be married to is already carrying a child.  He knows there is no way that the baby is his.  And even though he has received this message from an angel, I wondered if he doubted.  Wondered if Mary had been unfaithful.  Wondered how he would raise a child that he did not father.  I know what most men today would do.  They would turn and run quickly in the other direction.  But Joseph stayed.  He remained faithful to his promise to Mary.  And he remained faithful to the call of God.  He chose to obey and love Mary and this child as if it were his own.

And what would the town say?  What would their families and friends say?  In this day and age, it is not that uncommon for an unmarried or engaged woman to become pregnant.  However, back in Joseph's time, it was unheard of for a woman to become pregnant outside of marriage.  The punishment?  Stoning to death.  Stoning.  Joseph knew that, if he left Mary and revealed she was pregnant, she would be stoned.  He loved her too much.  He trusted God too much to walk away.

So Joseph made an honorable decision.  He took Mary as his wife.  He cared for her and loved her and waited along beside her for the birth of this child.  The child who would become the Savior of the world.  And I wonder if during those months Joseph was overwhelmed with the knowledge that he would be raising God Incarnate.  He would be raising the One who came to save him from his sins.  How could he, a sinful man, raise Jesus, a perfect man.

But Joseph did.  He carried Mary to Bethlehem due to a decree by Caesar that each man had to take his family to his hometown and be taxed.  But this decree wasn't coincidence.  God was working out every detail so that the prophecy would be filled to the letter.  As they approached Bethlehem, Mary probably started to go into labor.  Joseph frantically finds a place for them to stay.  A barn.  A smelly barn full of smelly animals.  I wonder if he was worried that this was the best he could provide for his wife.  I wonder if he was worried that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would be born in a stable.  But again, God's plan was at work.  And so amidst the hay and the stench and the animals, a Savior was born.  And because Joseph chose to be faithful to God's call, he was witness to the greatest Miracle ever!

Joseph.  A humble man.  A grateful man.  A faithful man.  A compassionate, caring man.  A man who chose to follow God when everything could come crashing down.  And by choosing to step out in faith and do what didn't make any human sense, he became the earthly father for the heavenly Son.  He was part of the plan for our salvation to occur.  If only more men would stand up today and be humble, grateful, faithful, compassionate, caring.  And obedient to God's call.

On a side note... The story of Joseph raising Jesus as his own shows me that adoption is also part of God's plan.  As someone who always wanted a house full of kids but who has never been married, I have looked into adoption.  I have been told that adopting a child isn't "the same" as having one of your own.  But I beg to differ.  A child is a gift.  Jesus was the ultimate gift.  If God chose to have Joseph "adopt" His only Son, that shows me adoption is part of his plan.  And it also shows that sometimes it takes more courage to love a child who is not biologically yours.  Joseph's story proves that.  So if you are an adoptive parent or someone who is considering adoption, please know you are fulfilling a great call on your life by God to love another human being as your own.  And if you have children of your own, be thankful.  Regardless of how you received your little "gifts", all children are a gift from God and were put on this earth to make a difference.

Oh what a precious promise,
Oh what a gift of love;
An angel tells a virgin that
She’s gonna have a son.
And though it’s a precious promise,
She wonders how can this be;
What will the people say
And what if Joseph can’t believe.
And her questions and her fears
Are met with an overwhelming joy
That God has chosen her.
Oh what a precious promise;
Mary waits as heaven comes to earth.

Oh what a precious promise,
Oh what a gift of love;
Joseph makes his choice to do
What few men would have done:
To take Mary as his bride,
When she’s already carrying a child
That isn’t his own.
Oh what a precious promise;
Mary and the child will have a home.

And shepherds stand on a hillside,
Their hearts racing with the news the angel told them;
A star's light fills up the dark sky,
As the night of precious promise is unfolding.

Oh what a precious promise,
Oh what a gift of love;
The waiting now is over and
The time has finally come.
For the God who made this world
To roll back the curtain
And unveil His passion for the heart of man.
Oh what a precious promise,
Lying in a manger in Bethlehem.
Oh what a precious promise,
Lying in a manger in Bethlehem


Adrianne said...

I have so enjoyed reading your Advent blogs each morning when I get to work. I know everyone is starting to get in the Christmas mood and everywhere you go we see Santa Clause, reindeer, and what-not. Thank you so much for reminding me about the true "Reason for the Season"! God has blessed me with two wonderful, little "gifts" and it's my job as their mother to teach them about the greatest Miracle of all. Love you!

Jenn said...

I agree with Adrianne 100%! We get so caught up in the material aspects of Christmas and need to focus on the true meaning. As far as adoption, I believe that children are a gift from God and all deserve to be in loving homes. There are women who give birth.. but that does not make them MOTHERS. You do what the Lord wants you to do. There are plenty of children who need a person like you in their lives. :)