“Joseph—God’s Quiet Follower”
A Christmas Thought from Don Shoemaker
I’m a relatively reserved person—worship and talking about my faith included.
But for much of my life I’ve been in Christian circles where being demonstrative in worship is expected. And you also are expected to witness boldly to others of your faith. If you don’t do these things, well, you just aren’t very spiritual.
It can sure give you a sense of spiritual inferiority, especially when religious Great Ones around you, spiritual Übermenschen (supermen) show you and tell you what you must do to be properly religious.
Then I looked in the Christmas Story and saw a man named Joe—Ordinary Joe. A man quietly faithful to God in his own way. No spiritual huffing and puffing, just simply and quietly faithful.
When Mary became pregnant and Joseph knew he wasn’t “the man”, he was going to divorce her quietly. But an angel visited Joseph to change his mind. He should take Mary as his wife. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (Matthew 1:24 NIV).
When King Herod threatened Jesus’ life, Joseph again obeyed an angel: “Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.” “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt” (2:14).
Finally in Matthew’s nativity account, once Herod was dead Joseph obeyed the angel’s word that it was time to go back (2:19-21).
In Luke’s account, Joseph—again without a word—travelled with very-expectant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem to obey the Roman government’s distasteful registration requirement (Luke 2:1-7). In his quiet way, he helped bring to pass the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, King David’s city—the event that would shake the world.
Days later, he and Mary “took Jesus to church”—presenting him at the Temple in dedication to God as the Law of Moses required (2:21-39). Quiet and faithful Joe.
Joseph is a key figure in both Matthew’s and Luke’s nativity accounts. What impressed me as I considered him was that he could be an obedient disciple without (in all the Bible’s depictions of him) uttering a single word.
I am refreshed by the story of Joseph. We need guys like him in the church and in our lives. Ordinary Christians. I imagine many of you are refreshed by his story also as you ponder it.
A Joyous Christmas, everyone!