(Friends, this is Part 5 of a seven part series devoted to the Lord's entrance into the world. Today's message concerns Joseph, the husband of Mary, and the Lord's earthly father. Thanks, Glen)
"Joseph the Just(ified), Joseph the Obedient"
We know little about Joseph, the husband of Mary and the earthly father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of the lineage of David by ancestry, and a carpenter by trade, the Bible most importantly reveals him to have been a just and obedient man.
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit... Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called His name Jesus" (Matthew 1:18-20; 24; 25).
"And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy Him. When he arose, he took the young child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt" (Matthew 2:13-14).
"Just and obedient" go hand in hand according to God's working in human hearts. First, when any Biblical figure is referred to as "just," we can know that the person has been justified by God's grace through faith. This includes Old Testament saints who did not know the full revelation of God's saving purposes in Lord Jesus, but who entered into relationship with Him by trusting His promises. As some Bible commentators have suggested, they were justified by looking forward to God's promised Messiah, while Christians are justified by looking back to Messianic promises fulfilled. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). Scripture records Joseph among this company, again, "a just man." Or justified.
Joseph was also an obedient man. God told him to take Mary as his wife, despite the appearances, and to take the Lord Jesus into Egypt for His protection. This follows the Bible's theme of justification resulting in sanctification to the glory and will of God. The Apostle Paul prayed that the Philippians "might be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11). Justification and righteousness are translated from the same Greek root word in the New Testament. Thus, the fruits of righteousness can also be termed the fruits of justification. This returns our consideration to Joseph, a just man and an obedient man, or an obedient man because he was a justified man. Scripture does not record the history of Joseph's personal reception of God's grace that led to a faithful life, but we can be sure it happened because no human being justifies himself. "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Galatians 2:16). Thus, when we think of our brother of old, we consider a forgiven man freely enrobed with the gift of God's righteousness provided to all who trust His promises. Moreover, the reception of the gift led to a life that reflected such grace in a subsequent life of faith and faithfulness. Justified by grace received and obedient by grace experienced- this is the legacy of the carpenter, as made possible by "the carpenter's son" who was actually the Son of God given to make possible Joseph's justification and obedience - and our's as well.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Weekly Memory Verse
And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.