Let's hear it for Joseph
Jospeh's resume is meager. When we think about him being the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, our default setting is that he was a just, that is, righteous man. Much has been supposed about what this actually means, the measure of righteousness in that day. Our Western eyes would see a man made of the right stuff and for that reason, performing his duties in an exemplary fashion. We might include his personal piety, how he handled the delicate maneuvers of an arranged marriage, his work ethic, where he figured in community life, participation in the synagogue, and any number of personal attributes. Doing the right thing by young, pregnant Mary was certainly a notable asset in Scripture. He determined to handle the whole thing quietly. News flash! He wasn't self-righteous. He had a heart!
So, God sent an angel to speak to him about the plan, God's plan. I've often wondered why God chose such an unlikely candidate to be our Lord's earthly model. Of course, even a moment looking back over the history of Israel would have made such a question out of order. God had always chosen the foolish things and people of the of the world to make His plan happen. But, there is a unique thread that links so many of them, the unheralded people He selected to be the agents of HIs program. Surely there's something about Joseph that made him the choice.
Lineage? Yes, of course, Joseph was in the line, though a distant branch in the family tree. It did appear that he owned or had access to a donkey, one of the prophetic requirements. And, there were other links to the Old Testament expectation of the Messiah. They all fit Joseph. Every one. But, there's something else. You see, Joseph did everything the angel asked of him. His personal righteousness was a heart issue. Joseph had an obedient heart.
We probably would too if an unmistakeable angel appeared to us, even in a dream, and gave us instructions about a complicated family matter. Matthew wrote it clearly, "When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus" (Matthew 1:24-25). This sweet, righteous man, obeyed.
It is a mark of those entrusted with His plans. They weren't names, fortunes, traditions, or pillars of the church. They were obedient. Noah (Gen.6:22), Abraham (Gen. 12:4), Moses (Ex. 40:10),
Aaron (Ex. 7:6), Joshua (Josh. 11:14), David (2 Sam. 5:25), Elijah (1 Kings 17:5), and dozens of others did what the Lord commanded them to do. He entrusted the workings of HIs plan to people He knew would obey Him in them.
So, Joseph's righteousness wasn't about himself, his positon in history, the fortune and fame of being the man selected as the earthly father of Jesus, but of simply obeying Him.
Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey---whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
Let's hear it for Joseph! And, learn from him the precious rifghteousness of obedience!