We don’t talk about Joseph much. Of course, every school-aged child in a Sunday school class learns that he was a carpenter. And certainly, Jesus is the star of the show. But God chose and created Joseph specifically to be the father of the Savior. He chose him to lead the family that would raise the Messiah. Let’s dig into his story!
Joseph, husband of Mary: Matthew 1:16
and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. ESV
The Birth of Jesus Christ: Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. ESV
The Flight to Egypt: Matthew 2:13
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” ESV
The Return to Nazareth: Matt 2:19-23
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” ESV
It’s significant to note that in Matthew 1:16 Mary was identified as the mother of Jesus and Joseph was described as the husband of Mary, not the father of Jesus. Matthew 1:19 specifically says that Joseph was not the biological father but that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary. This was confirmed again in Matthew 1:20. Some people have difficulty believing in the virgin birth, but if you believe that the Holy Spirit (God) cannot impregnate Mary, then how can you believe any of the miracles and powers of God?
The Messiah’s birth was prophesied in the Old Testament to be to a virgin and Matthew reports and describes a virgin birth. Mary accepted the invitation of the Holy Spirit to give birth which certainly created an interesting situation for Joseph. Joseph had to be a very special man! He would have needed great faith in both God and Mary. Even with great faith he would have had to wonder how this was all going to work out. How would he explain all this to his family and friends? Would he be a laughingstock of the village and the object of whispering and gossip? But Joseph trusted in God more than in his fears. Although his response may be amazing to us, God knew all along the fiber of the man He had chosen for Mary’s husband.
One of the most striking facts or occurrences in this story, other than the virgin birth, is Joseph’s willing obedience in spite of the difficult circumstances. It could have been hard to believe, but Joseph did not question anything at all.
If you had been either Joseph or Mary in this story, what would have been the most difficult aspect of the whole situation for you? How would you have explained the situation to your family? Mary would have been a very young girl, probably in her early to mid-teens. It was an overwhelming situation for a young girl. Joseph immediately began thinking about divorce, but the text indicates his intent was to divorce Mary quietly. Why?
But Joseph had a dream and was given instructions from an angel of the Lord and was told he could take Mary home as his wife. (Mt 1:24-25). If this were you, how would you really have known it was God speaking to you?
Matthew cites 12 fulfilled prophecies throughout his book. He wanted to show the reader that God is actively at work fulfilling the prophecies He proclaimed through the prophets. This also indicates that God was active in the writing of Scripture and assuring that it was true. The key doctrinal point in this passage is that Mary was a virgin and Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Why must the Holy Spirit be the cause of the pregnancy and not Joseph? What doctrinal issues require a “virgin birth”? There are a number of important issues surrounding this concept and I will list two:
(1) First, it explains how Jesus can be both fully God and fully man, and
(2) It explains how Jesus was without sin.
Jesus must be sinless and without blemish (pure) in order to be an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the people. If Jesus had been fathered by Joseph then He would have carried Adam’s seed and been born with a sinful nature. What else does the virgin birth support or demonstrate?
Do you need to trust or obey God for something He is telling you to do?
Also, join us on our Facebook page to talk about Joseph all week long!