Many of us love to tell the Christmas story each year as we remember Jesus' arrival on Earth and His resulting ministry. But one of the most fascinating parts of the story is examining the key individuals involved and the lessons they can teach us. And that includes the relationship between Joseph and Jesus.
Joseph accepted the role as Jesus' father on Earth, and that decision can teach us a great deal about our own faith.
Here are some lessons about Joseph, father of Jesus, that we should explore:
Joseph and Jesus: Always Walk in Kindness
Matthew 1 tells us the story of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. And one of the most interesting elements of that story comes when we learn that Joseph and Mary were "pledged to be married," but that Mary was "found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit."
One can imagine the shock Joseph faced when his wife-to-be was suddenly with child. The Bible tells us in Matthew 1:19, that Joseph, father of Jesus, planned to initially divorce Mary: "Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly."
There's something worth noting here about the story of Joseph and Jesus. Despite the likely anger, frustration and embarrassment, Joseph didn't want to harm Mary by making the situation public.
He chose to divorce her "quietly," showing the amazing kindness Jesus' father had in his heart — a kindness we should replicate, even for those who hurt us.
Joseph, Father of Jesus: Obedience to God
The story of Joseph and Jesus also teaches us to be obedient to God. We learn in Matthew 1:20-24 (NIV) that Jesus' father saw an angel of the Lord in a dream who told him to take Mary as his wife.
The angel explained that Mary conceived as a result of the Holy Spirit and that she would have a son that the couple would name Jesus — a son who would "save his people from their sins."
It was at this point that Joseph became Jesus' earthly father. Matthew 1:24-25 (NIV) details Joseph's obedience:
"When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."
There is a stunning lesson here about being obedient even when life feels chaotic or uncertain. In Joseph's case, the events around him likely felt out of control and uncomfortable.
But, he still chose to hear God throughout the chaos — a lesson in obedience for us all.
Jesus' Father: Follow God, Not Man
An important element about the story of Joseph and Jesus that is important to drive home is that Jesus' father could have simply quit his relationship with Mary.
Joseph, father of Jesus, could have buckled under social pressure and worried about what society around him thought about the couple's circumstances. Rather than listen to God, he could have allowed culture's standards to crowd his heart and mind.
Instead, Jesus' father chose to listen to the Lord, against all the odds. This is yet another powerful lesson about how we should live our own lives.
Joseph and Jesus: Persevere and Press On
Jesus' father didn't have it easy after the Savior's birth. In fact, the situation only seemed to intensify, as we learn in Matthew 2 that Mary, Joseph and Jesus had to initially flee to protect Christ's life.
We learn in Matthew 2 that Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled to Egypt after the wise men came to visit them. An angel again appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take his family to Egypt, as Herod was going to search for Jesus "to kill him."
Once again, Joseph, father of Jesus, was obedient. He got up immediately and Mary and Jesus joined him in the middle of the night to leave for Egypt. Jesus' father kept his family there until Herod's death.
This was a smart move, as Matthew 2:16 (NIV) proclaims: "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi."
Joseph once again listened to an angel who appeared in another dream when that angel told Jesus' father to take the family back to Israel.
Eventually, by following promptings, the family ended up in Nazareth. In addition to listening to God, this chapter encourages us to persevere. Life won't always be easy, but if we seek God and listen to His voice, we'll end up where we are meant to be in life.
These are just some of the powerful lessons we can learn when we look at the scriptures surrounding Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
Looking for more about the birth of Christ? You can stream a plethora of other Christmas movies today, including romantic comedies and plenty more!