Joseph

Nativity HeaderI come from a long line of talkers. My lineage is filled with teachers and preachers and others known for their speeches. The holiday dinner tables growing up were always a place where the noise never stopped, and if you wanted to get a word in edge-wise you had to jump in at any pause for breath. Of all my relatives, my mom can out talk anyone. I’ve had hour-long phone conversations with her where my only part was “hello…” and she took it from there.

Let’s just say the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. I’m a talker too. I’ve struggled with it my whole life. If they had an anonymous support group, which I suggest calling On-an-on-and-on-annon. I would weekly stand at the front saying, “My name is Ryan, and I’m a talkaholic.”

I’ve fought this tendency my whole life. I’m often grinding my teeth and biting my tongue when someone is saying something clearly wrong, or when I’ve been in a class where the professor asks a difficult question and no one else seems to know the answer.

Even worse than that is when I, or someone close to me has clearly been wronged. I want to give wrong-doer a tongue lashing. I guess I’d be a pretty good defense attorney. I want my story to be known. I want to affect change and make a difference, not for the sake of fame, but I desperately want my life and my words to have made some sort of positive difference.

Having said all of that, I was looking at my front yard nativity scene the other day. I saw Mary and the manger and the star, and next to it all was Joseph. He’s always seemed so passive in the Nativity, so stoic. Mary in labor, a baby birthed, barnyard animals, all of that seems to be cacophonous despite any popular Christmas song’s sentiments. But Joseph there at the manger, for him it seems a silent night indeed.

In Matthew chapter 1 [1:18-21] we hear about the advent from Joseph’s point of view:

“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

The Bible makes clear in a few passages that the Advent is truly a case of virgin birth, and this passage is the clearest. This is the only time where we see things from Joseph’s position. While Mary truly had a place of great honor bearing the savior of the world, this was in every natural way counter to who Joseph was as a man. He was supposed to raise a baby that was not his and face possible ridicule from friends and neighbors who would easily be able to do math from Jesus birth (after all—we all know it was December 25th….just kidding).

Jesus would not go into his father’s business. For as often as I’ve heard Christians speak of Jesus doing carpentry, the Bible never says anything about it at all. Not once. The closest is when people ask of Jesus, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” (Mat 13:55).

We actually don’t know much about Joseph at all. We know his lineage. We know that he was an important part of Jesus human development. We know he died in Jesus adulthood, and we know that he was a righteous man. But we don’t know a single word he ever said, because he is not quoted in the Bible even one time. Never. We only know Joseph from his actions.

Joseph knew that he wanted to not expose Mary to ridicule, but when God talked, Joseph obeyed. He moved quickly to save his family from danger and took them to Egypt (Mat 2:13-15). He didn’t speak back to God. He didn’t stand up for his rights. He just obeyed the Lord.

I’d like to think I’m a doer, but I’m much more of a talker. Maybe you are too. Maybe you are like me and are quick to argue, snap back at any infraction. But I’m trying to be more like Joseph and just listen to God and obey.

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