The Messiah Who Simply Does What is Right

Nov 22, 2023 | by Major Stephen R. Kelly

(Although Joseph was) descended from kings and governors, there doesn’t seem to be a shred of pretentiousness on him.

Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus

            We come to Joseph. Here is a man the New Testament tells us a few things about.

            Matthew’s Gospel picks up right after the genealogy:

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:  Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus  (Matthew 1:18-25).

            Luke also tells us that Mary “was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David” (Luke 1:27). “And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home [for the census]. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee” (Luke 2:4).

            Joseph is further mentioned as being present when the shepherds showed up in the middle of the night, and in the narrative of Jesus’ presentation at the Temple eight days later.  He received messages from God in dreams at least twice – once telling him to get married, and the other to leave town in a hurry.

            In several other places in the Gospels, we hear that Joseph was a carpenter.

            What we know of the culture of Joseph’s day was that he was probably at least 30 years old when he married, and his bride would have been substantially younger. Church tradition says he was probably older than that. This age difference may help explain why Mary seems to have outlived her husband.

                        What do we really know about this man entrusted to care for God’s Son?

  Here’s a few takeaways:

  • He was described as a “righteous man,” so he cared about the things that matter to God. But in the same sentence it says that he did not want to publicly disgrace Mary for her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, even though the law required her to be stoned. Here’s a man who is more about the principles of righteousness and less about the letter of the law. I think Joseph would have been very comfortable with the New Testament concept of grace.
  • Joseph is the kind of man who, when he receives a message from God, has no need to wrestle, ponder or otherwise delay. He just does what the Lord asks.
  • He’s just a simple working man. Descended from kings and governors, there doesn’t seem to be a shred of pretentiousness on him. He’s just a hard-working, blue-collar guy.  He’s exactly the kind of man that Jesus would one day choose for disciples.

ConsiderHow can you be righteous without being legalistic? How can you extend grace to those you interact with who are in situations that look bad?

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