14 December 2009

An Average Joe?

As we are in the midst of the Christmas season, we are reminded over and over again of the story of Christ's birth. Usually it's the narrative in Luke that gets the most attention, with the account of Zachariah and Elizabeth and Mary the mother of Jesus. However, I just recently started reading the first seven chapters of Matthew for my daily bible reading, and I have been appreciating some things about Matthew's account of Christ's birth, especially what I have learned about Joseph, the husband of Mary.

He was a righteous man. (1:19-20) Although he would have been within his rights to have Mary stoned because she was found to be with child while they were only betrothed, Joseph did not want to disgrace her. He planned to send her away secretly. This shows that he was merciful and not legalistic in his righteousness. While God does use and has used the unrighteous to accomplish His will, His most high and holy will is accomplished through those who willingly yield their lives to Him, as Joseph did.

He was obedient. (1:24) After he received commands from the Lord's angel to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife and to call the baby Jesus, he "awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him." We see Joseph's obedience to the Lord's commands throughout the first and second chapters of Matthew. He took Mary to be his wife (as he was commanded in 1:20). He called His name Jesus (as he was commanded in 1:21). He got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night and left for Egypt (as he was commanded, 2:14). After the infanticide in Bethlehem and the death of Herod, Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel (as he was commanded, 2:20) And finally, we learn that Joseph was warned by God in a dream, and he took his family to the regions of Galilee, namely, Nazareth, which ultimately was God's perfect plan in order to fulfill prophecy about the Messiah. So Joseph did what God told him.

He was a good sleeper. Being righteous and obedient, Joseph had the perfect prescription for a good night's rest. Okay, you can call me hokey if you like, but have you ever given this much thought? Joseph had a lot of major issues going on in his life, and yet he seems to sleep soundly amid all the stress and anxiety. His betrothed is found to be with child. And how does this righteous, obedient man deal with it? He goes to sleep. And God tells him what to do. (And he does it.)

The maji had just left after God had warned them to go a different way, and what does the righteous, obedient Joseph do? Business as usual. Time for a rest. And Joseph is told in another dream to get up and flee to Egypt because Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him. Now you would think, okay, it's time to stress out. The most powerful ruler of the land is after you because he wants to kill your child. But Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. (2:14) Did I mention how obedient this righteous man was?

So Joseph remained there in Egypt, and meanwhile infanticide happens in the Bethlehem vicinity. It would be enough to keep a person on edge, especially knowing that you have the Child that is on the "most wanted" list from that region. But again, Joseph seems to be sleeping well. Because an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and tells him to return with the family to Israel, and Joseph does just that.

He was afraid. Now, verse 22 of Chapter 2 says, "But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there." So Joseph was afraid! Finally, something I can relate to! It's good to see that he was a pretty average Joe, in some ways. And of course we all know by now what to expect: Joseph doesn't lose any sleep. No, he goes right to sleep, and God warns him in a dream, and Joseph goes where God directs him to go, and prophecy is fulfilled.

So, how about it? Was he an average Joe? Am I? If an account of my life were written, would it show that I was righteous and obedient to God's commands, and responsive to His direction even amid the most extreme circumstances? Is God willing to use me because I do not freeze with fear, nor delay in obeying, nor complain about it, but respond straight away with obedience?

No comments:

Post a Comment