One of the joys of my Christmas has been the opportunity to study the birth narrative from Matthew 1-2.
Matthew wrote his gospel for Jews. You can see this as he repeatedly shows parallels of the life of Jesus with the Old Testament. Matthew wanted to show how Jesus of Nazareth was sent from God and fulfilled Scripture.
Matthew tells of the events of the birth of Jesus from the point of view of Joseph. Luke, a Gentile writing for Gentiles, told of the events of Jesus birth from the point of view of Mary. Looking at the two narratives and comparing them is an interesting, enlightening, and helpful exercise.
Today, I want to share some of the significant lessons I have learned by looking at Joseph. Joseph is a “real man” who faithfully followed God and cared for his young family. Like Mary, we should deeply appreciate Joseph’s obedience and devotion to God.
Here are four lessons I learned from Joseph.
First, I need to make God’s plan my plan.
We all come here with a sinful nature. That nature tells us that the world revolves around us and that we should get what we want.
You don’t have to look far to understand that is a recipe for failure and despair. It is basically the history of the world.
How different life is when we adopt God’s plan for our lives. Like all of us, Joseph had his own plans. I am almost certain that swallowing his pride and taking his pregnant betrothed as a wife was not one of his plans. Yet Joseph listened to and obeyed the angel who spoke to him in a dream.
Joseph let God carry out His purpose, and Joseph got to raise up the Son of God. What a plan!
Second, I need to learn how the world works and react accordingly. Being the man to raise God’s Son was neither safe nor easy. Joseph had to face down one the worst tyrants in history in Herod the Great and make sure the infant survived. Joseph was not naïve about life. He never believed life is easy. You and I should not be naïve about it either.
Third, God is looking for men who are both tough and gentle. God’s plan is that men be tough against sin and evil and gentle toward wives and children. Joseph was both. He held to principles but he also cared for people, especially Mary. That is a dynamite combination that wives find attractive and God sees as obedience.
Finally, Joseph shows that we must be constantly vigilant as we lead our families. Though Joseph is only mentioned in Matthew 1-2 in this gospel, we see him repeatedly doing the things necessary to care for his family in difficult circumstances.
I give thanks for Joseph, his obedience to God, and the lessons he has taught me.
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