We don’t always take a close enough glimpse at one person in the Christmas story whom I can relate to the most.
Because like me, Joseph appears to have wondered at the whys of Jesus.
- Why, Mary?
- Why Mary?!
- Why this way, God?
- Why now?
- Why me?
‘Why’ is a question we can all see ourselves saying when faced with a new scary or unsettling situation.
At times, we echo what we imagine Joseph’s attitude was when informed about Mary’s pregnancy.
We don’t know actually who told him, for we know Mary was out of town for several months visiting her cousin Elizabeth as she was awaiting her son to come, John. We can hazard a guess that the grapevine may have gotten to Joseph before her parents or Mary did.
Because bad news likes to spread when outsiders begin to ask why.
As her fiancé (in those days called betrothed) Joseph had pledged to marry Mary. To us today, being betrothed is like being married except not living or sleeping together yet. In that time, he had the legal right to accuse her of infidelity, divorce her, see her stoned, and be set free without any blemish on his reputation. (see Matthew 1:18 – 25)
Joseph must have asked why. For we all want to know the answer to that question when faced with drama or trauma.
He was likely broken-hearted, angry, frustrated and second guessing himself for choosing her as his bride.
We get a critical glimpse into Joseph’s personality with his response to Mary’s news, and the hint of what he must have been thinking, when the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. (Notice the angel showed up after he had decided to quietly divorce her.)
His message from God for Joseph?
- Son of David: Yes, I know you, and i have the right guy, Joseph. You are part of the promise, the hope for Israel.
- Do not fear: I am with you.
- Take Mary as your wife: live up to your covenant with her.
- She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit: your wife became pregnant through God’s actions, no man’s. She is still your pure fiancée.
- She is to bear a son: So you will know I speak the truth.
- Call him Jesus: For this is happening because He is the Messiah..
- For He will take away the sins of the world: this is the plan.
- And fulfill the prophecies spoken about him: this is the time for him to arrive.
Notice what Joseph did first thing after awakening from that dream.
He went and got married to the girl of his dreams. (With one exception. He didn’t consummate the marriage while she was pregnant with Jesus.)
Despite all the why’s left unanswered, Joseph heard exactly what he needed to in order to obey God, and become the step-father of the most important man in history.
I’d be asking why me too if I were Joseph.
Because I do so often enough in my own life at times.
Here is the thing. God knows why He chose you and I.
Just because we don’t always know why He chose us, doesn’t mean we were not His intended chosen.
God knew Joseph would be engaged to Mary. He knew him to be a just man, who loved Mary so much he would show her kindness in a heartbreaking situation.
For Joseph, despite his likely questions, was a man after God’s own heart.
After Jesus was born, Joseph was given another set of instructions in a dream via an angel of the Lord. He was warned to take Mary and Jesus, and flee to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-15)
Then he was told why.
For in that instance, being a devout Jew and being asked to go back to Egypt, the country which kept your people enslaved for generation? I’d want to know why, just like Joseph would.
The why? For Herod wants to kill Jesus.
God didn’t need to say any more than that, apart from wait for My further instructions.
There are some why’s we already know the answer to, we just need to hear them confirmed.
There are most lessons we can learn from the briefly recorded life of Joseph, step-father to Jesus, husband to Mary. But why is evident the greatest in this portion of the Word.
Because when God asked Joseph to do something, just like Mary, he did so. Even without all his why’s answered.
There is no question in my mind that Mary and Joseph were real life people like you and I. God knew the plans He had for them, and look how history was changed through their obedience.
Why Joseph ultimately comes down to this: Jesus needed an earthly father who resembled His heavenly Father. One whose heart was for following the ways of heaven while here on earth.
The next time you are overwhelmed with the questions on your heart and mind, ask Him to reveal Himself to you.
For He is the ultimate answer to all our questions: the how’s, the what if’s, the who’s, the what’s, the where’s, the when’s and yes, the why’s!
This piece of history reminds me to wonder anew at the bigger picture God has in store for us!