But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20–21)
What was the most difficult part about being Jesus’ earthly father?
There were times when I felt very common and not at all up to the task. Occasionally the weight and seriousness of the responsibility would fall on me, and I felt completely inadequate. I was inadequate. Who is worthy to raise the Son of God? I asked God daily for strength and wisdom.
After Jesus was born and you had to flee to Egypt, were you afraid?
Initially, yes, I was very afraid. After the alarming vision, there was this urgency in me. I felt as though Herod’s guards were on their way, and if I didn’t move quickly, then … well, you know. But on our way to Egypt, I realized that God was directing the events here, not Herod or I. I said to myself, Wait a second. God knows the future. If something bad were going to happen, he would help us. I thought about the Israelites on their way out of Egypt, and if ever things started closing in around us to that degree, I knew we could be confident of a miracle.
How was your faith changed by that whole string of events surrounding the birth of Jesus?
It wasn’t just my faith. This child upended my whole life. I was talking about this with Zechariah one time, about how we had our whole lives planned until God showed up. Everything about our lives changed. But what a joy!
You mentioned joy. Explain what you mean.
Most people, when they think of Jesus, think about his strong teachings or his miracles or maybe even his death. But when I think of him, my mind goes back to this time, right after he was born. He had just awakened, I was holding him and he was looking around. Very alert. And he looked up at me and with his little fingers grabbed my finger. They say babies that young don’t smile, but he smiled, as if to say, “I’m glad to be here.” You know, Mary witnessed his death, and Peter felt his forgiveness on the beach after the denial. Thomas touched the scars in his hands, and John even saw a vision of him coming back as King. But I held that baby before all that. And that’s something I’ll never forget.
Back to the Future
The course of Joseph’s life was entirely redirected by God, and yet he reacted with grace and obedience. How difficult would it be for you to make massive life changes like Joseph? Why?
God entrusted the care of his Son Jesus to a man without much in the way of monetary resources. What does this show about God’s view of wealth? Of parenting?
Joseph was a man of faith. What have you learned from Joseph’s life that has strengthened your own faith?