Read: Luke 2:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25
On February 21, 2018, late that evening, I posted on my Instagram account the passing of Billy Graham, famed evangelist, faithful husband, dedicated preacher. During his funeral, I watched with eyes focused the eulogy given by one of his daughters, Anne Graham Lotz. At the start of her tribute she said, “When I think of him, I do not think of Billy Graham, the public figure. I think of my daddy.” From there on, she talked about the daddy that was knit to her heart, like a warm thick sweater to a cold, shivering little girl. While the world was drawn to him from a distance, his powerful sermons and delightful persona, Anne knew him up close.
As you read through this devotional, this Christmas season, my prayer is that you have a sense of Joseph’s sincerity and tenderness as a gentle man, father and husband due to four responses that reveals His relationship with God, his Father.
First, according to Matthew 1:19, Joseph was dedicated to living to God’s standard. Unfortunately, Scripture does not provide much about his upbringing. However, due to this one verse you see that after knowing that Mary was found to be pregnant, he followed his convictions. “Joseph her husband was faithful to the law…” He had every reason to publicly shame her. However, as you read further, he did not. Joseph did not want to disgrace her and even wanted to divorce her quietly.
With the power of social media and today’s culture, Mary would be destroyed. Yet, Joseph had no desire to publicly humiliate Mary. He was faithful to follow the law, but equally as faithful to protect Mary’s heart and the child.
Second, Joseph was devoted to follow the Lord. The sequence of the text showed that he had no knowledge that an angel of the Lord had spoken to Mary and that she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. (Lk. 1:26-38; Matt. 1:18) But like Mary, after hearing from the angel of the Lord, he obeyed. “When Joseph woke up, he did…” (Matt. 1:24)
Joseph had a standard, but that standard was built on His relationship with God. Any thought of legalistic tendencies was immediately stripped away when he responded with compassion to Mary and then obedience to His Lord. This is a portrait of devotion in motion.
Third, Joseph was determined to accomplish God’s will. After this scene, Luke’s account fast forwards to a census taken of Rome through a decree of the emperor, Caesar Augustus. (Lk. 2:1-3) “So Joseph also went up…” (Lk. 2:4) Joseph went from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, approximately eighty to ninety miles. During that time, this trek was arduous. Little did Joseph know he was fulfilling a prophecy told to the Old Testament prophet, Micah, hundreds of years ago. (Mic. 5:2)
Scripture revealed no hesitation from Joseph. He knew where he was from and he uprooted his family to go to Bethlehem. He was dedicated, devoted, and now determined to accomplish what the Lord wills.
Finally, Christ was born. Joseph was delighted to give His name. The prophets called him Immanuel, the angel of the Lord declared Him to be Messiah, and Joseph “gave him the name Jesus.” (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23; Lk. 2:11; Matt. 1:25)
Joseph took great risk to accept a pregnant woman to be his wife. He had to remain steadfast, even though God tested his standards and his pride. His reputation was at stake. Yet, Scripture clearly shows his dedication, his devotion, his determination, and his great delight to give.
As you reflect on Joseph and petition to the Lord on this Christmas day, ask these questions to your faithful Dad in heaven as an adopted child of His:
- Have I dedicated my life to live by your words?
- Have I truly devoted all my heart to love and to follow You?
- Am I determined to accomplish all that you will of me?
- Am I delighted to give your name all the praise you deserve?
Be vulnerable. You may feel deficient and insufficient but know that His grace and love covers you. I am reminded of these words by author, Philip Yancey, “Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are.”