Joseph: The Selfless Father of the Messiah

In Blogs, Devotional by Steve Conover5 Comments

I remember walking our oldest daughter around The Friends of Israel headquarters when she was a newborn to meet my ministry family. One of my coworkers, a father with adult children, looked me in the eyes and said, “It’s going to go fast!”

New parents hear this phrase a lot, but this time felt different because I saw in his eyes just how deeply it moved him to be finished actively parenting children in his home. The apparent message to me was to be present in what would prove to be a short season. And, as I was forewarned, in a flash, I went from introducing our first child to friends and loved ones to walking our youngest daughter down the aisle. The childraising season had vanished like a vapor.

I imagine Joseph, the adoptive earthly father of Jesus, felt similarly. The Bible does not reveal a lot about him. There are no recorded words of Joseph in the biblical text. The last mention of his name comes when Jesus was 12 years old and He and his family were returning from the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41–52). At the crucifixion, Jesus committed his mother, Mary, to John’s care (John 19:26–27), indicating that Joseph had already died. However, in the brief moments we see of Joseph’s life is a remarkable example of a husband and father whose character reflects the love of our perfect, heavenly Father.

Obedience to the Lord and a love of His Word motivated Joseph, not reputation.

Humble Obedience

As an earthly father to Jesus, Joseph never acted out of self-interest. He faithfully devoted himself to God (Matthew 1:19), and that dedication expressed itself in how he demonstrated love to his family. Joseph knew rumors would swirl around what would be seen as a scandal once his community knew that Mary was pregnant. But rather than considering his reputation, he considered Mary’s (vv. 24–25). Significantly, he was ​prepared to do right by Mary even before the angel appeared to Him. Obedience to the Lord and a love of His Word motivated Joseph, not reputation.

The Bible tells us that an angel appeared to Joseph in four separate dreams, and he obeyed without hesitation every time. The first was when an angel told Joseph that Mary had conceived of the Holy Spirit and to take her as his wife (vv. 18–25). The second was when Joseph protected his family from Herod’s wrath in Bethlehem and escaped to Egypt (2:13–15). The third was when Joseph was told it was safe to return to Israel (vv. 19–21), and the fourth was when Joseph was warned to divert from Judea and go directly to Galilee (v. 22). In four critical moments in the plan of redemption, Joseph immediately obeyed four times. 

God placed Joseph in Jesus’ life specifically for His purposes in that brief season of Jesus’ life, and Joseph was faithful to his calling as a husband and a father.

The Lord used Joseph’s humble and obedient heart to protect the life of the promised Messiah and fulfill prophecy (v. 23). In any of these moments, Joseph, in his humanness, could have doubted, feared, or even boasted about what he had to give up personally. We don’t read one word of complaint about how difficult these circumstances were for Joseph. His trust in God was immovable. God orchestrates events on a large scale, but He often implements them through the actions of those in awe of our Creator’s love and His Word. We see this in Joseph’s example.  

Isn’t that just like God to be so beautifully involved not only in the big-picture plan of redemption but also in the fine details of the family Jesus lived with daily? Just as prophecy revealed that the Messiah would arrive at a specific time in a specific place, we can trust that Joseph was not just the best adoptive father for Jesus because of his lineage but also because of his character, love, and obedience to God. Joseph’s character revealed that he valued what God values. God placed Joseph in Jesus’ life specifically for His purposes in that brief season of Jesus’ life, and Joseph was faithful to his calling as a husband and a father. His character reflected a humble heart that God would use in the daily life of the Messiah’s childhood.

Living to Reflect God’s Love

As a father whose children are all married, I reflect and ask: What would my children say I value? What am I doing in this short season of life ​to influence not only my children but others the Lord has placed in my life? Am I acting out of self-interest or through a love for and obedience to God’s Word and in the power of the Holy Spirit? 

In the short time you have on Earth, would others say your life reflects the love of our perfect Father who so graciously loves us?

I ask you the same question: What would those in your family or within your influence say about your actions and what they reveal about your character? In the short time you have on Earth, would others say your life reflects the love of our perfect Father who so graciously loves us? 

We honor God when we reflect His love to others, laying our interests aside and obeying in worshipful submission as Joseph did. God wondrously used his simple obedience in the early life of our Savior and God’s redemption plan. May Joseph’s life be an example to us in our brief window of opportunity to influence others with our Savior’s love.

To read “Mary: The Faithful Mother of the Messiah,” click here.

About the Author
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Steve Conover

Steve is the Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Media Ministries for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

Comments 5

  1. A most important message to Fathers. Thank you so much for delving into Joseph as a father. Very appreciative.

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