Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed 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 wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus (Matthew 1:18-21 & 24-25).
During the holiday season of Christmas, several churches, performance companies, and non-profit organizations put on their Christmas presentations celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. These performances are sometimes presented from the events that led up to Christ’s birth but also can include his ministry, death, and resurrection. We enjoyed the scenes from the performances like the angel Gabriel announcing himself to Mary a young virgin woman that she would become pregnant by the Holy Ghost and give birth to our Savior. The angel of the Lord appearing to shepherds in a field who were tendering to their flock which they proclaimed to them that the Christ is born in the city of David of Bethlehem. Various church choirs, Christmas carolers, and children sing songs like the heavenly host of angels did which they sang “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men (Luke 2:8-14)”! We watch with anticipation as the wise men take their journey from Herod the king searching for the star which helps to direct them to Bethlehem and them finding the young Child. When the wise men see the child in the manger they worship Him presenting their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh then departing a different way never telling Herod the King they had found the Messiah.
As all of these things are being celebrated during the Christmas season, an important part of the birth of Christ I believed is overlooked. I believe that part is the role that Joseph played in his relationship with Mary and the baby Jesus. What some storytellers, directors, and actors fail to allow the Holy Spirit to bring to light in the message of the birth of Jesus is the life example that Joseph can teach the church, families, and men today. The word of God describes Joseph as being a just man. The word just in the Hebrew means that “Joseph was a true believer in God” who was in right relationship with God. The life of Joseph I believe was a true standard of manhood for men in three important ways. The first way that the life of Joseph was a true standard of manhood for men was that he was willing to embrace God’s purpose over his own. The second way that the life of Joseph was a true standard of manhood for men was that he made the best out of an unpleasant and difficult situation that he was in. Finally, a third way that the life of Joseph was a true standard of manhood for men was that his life was a blueprint for real fatherhood.
He embraced God’s purpose
The first way that the life of Joseph was a true standard of manhood for men was that he was willing to embrace God’s purpose over his own. He embraced God’s purpose over what he desired for his marriage with Mary and trusted Him though the circumstances did not make sense. He embraced God’s purpose over his own because he realized that the Lord was Sovereign and He could do whatever He needed to do in the lives of men to carry out His eternal purpose. When Mary had first shared the news with her husband that she was pregnant and what the Lord shared with her concerning her pregnancy, Joseph first reaction to the news was to put her away quietly. Though the word of God does not tell us this, it is possible that Joseph felt that Mary had committed adultery against him and the story that she had told him was impossible to believe she was pregnant by the Holy Ghost. It was during this time of the first phase of their marriage that Mary had been living with her parents and Joseph was living in his own home and the two of them did not have a sexual relationship together. Had Mary pregnancy became public before others the grounds for divorce would have been granted Mary could have been possibly been stone according to the law of God in Deuteronomy 22:23-24. However, as he was pondering these things, the word of God tells us that “the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream”. The angel of the Lord told Joseph “do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”.
Had Joseph not agreed to obey the word of the Lord from the angel of the Lord, a cloud of suspicion would have followed Mary as a pregnant woman who was not married. However, because Joseph embraced God’s purpose over his own, he made Mary his wife and brought her into his home. As men, we sometimes enter into a marriage relationship with a woman because we want a sexy wife, have children and have a big home. We see marriage as a contract that we signed at either the justice of the peace or after being married in the church. However, we failed to grasp that marriage is a covenant relationship with God and the woman we say we love. The Lord has a purpose for our marriage which requires us as men to demonstrate the true standard of manhood. This standard is about loving our wives as Christ loved the Church and giving ourselves for them as the Apostle Paul talked about in Ephesians 5:25. Our standard of true manhood is loving them unconditionally which in turns gives them the freedom to submit themselves to their own husbands knowing that he will respect, cherish and honor her. As men, we must embrace God’s purpose for our marriages because He is sovereign and the women who are in our lives are there so that together we both can birth the greatness of God each of our lives for His glory.
He made the best out of unpleasant situations
As the time drew near for Mary to give birth, Joseph traveled all throughout the town area to find a place where Mary could have her son. They came from Galilee to the city of Nazareth, to the city of Judea so that both of them could be registered according to the decree given by Caesar of Augustus (Luke 2:1-5). When they arrived in Bethlehem, the word of God does not tell us how many places Joseph looked to find shelter for his wife but the end result was there was no room in the inn. Some bible theologians believe that the reason there was no room in the inn for Joseph and Mary was that many Jews had returned to Bethlehem to all register because of the decree made by Caesar of Augustus. The place that Joseph would take his expecting wife to get her out of the elements of the weather was a manger. (Luke 2:7). A manger was not a placed where kings were born but it was a placed where animals were kept and had a feeding trough. As a man Joseph to the most difficult situation and by God’s grace made it into the best opportune place for Mary to give birth to her son. Yes, it is true the Lord could have chosen to be born in the palace but had he been born there people who were not royalty would not have come to see Him. Our Lord could have been born in a place where government officials were, however, if He had been there, people who were not government status would not have been able to come to see the newborn King. However, the Lord chose a place where ordinary people come and relate to because Joseph was able to make the best out of an unpleasant and difficult place so that his wife would be better cared for.
As men, we have that same responsibility that Joseph did in providing a place that is ideal and best for the ones we love. We look to find a neighborhood, an area or a house that our wife and children would gratefully call their home. However, there are times in our lives as men we and our family are in a place that is not idea and pleasant for us. We seek to move somewhere else but the timing and the opportunity to do so is just not there. When we are in that temporary place or state of life, our leadership as men must show those who look to us that where we are is temporal but not permanent. If we fail to communicate that to ourselves and our family the place which is unpleasant to us can become a part of our attitude which others may feel is unpleasant in being around. In Proverbs 17:1, the word of God says that “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife”. When our family sees the attitude that we are appreciative for the little that we have, it will encourage them to know that our God will take was is not enough and make it more than enough for us all.
“He was a blueprint for real fatherhood
A final and third way that the life of Joseph was a true standard of manhood for men was that his life was a blueprint for real fatherhood. The word of God tells in Luke 2:22-24, that eight days after Jesus was born, Joseph had the young Child Jesus circumcised according to the law. Though Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, he would have the role in being a father who would teach the young Jesus the importance of honoring his mother and his father (Exodus 20:12). As a father, Joseph would teach a young Jesus the trade of being a carpenter would be a life skill that the Son of man would learn to support himself with. The people who saw Jesus grow up all knew him as the carpenter and Mary’s son who also had other brothers and sisters in Matthew 13:55. Joseph being in the life of the young Jesus would not feel out of place but was able to make his own place loving him as if he was his very own son.
The time has come for us as men to put down the blueprint of fatherhood that we learned about in the barbershop and the streets. It is time for us to put down the blueprint of fatherhood that we learned from the world that says it is okay to work all the time but we are never around when it really matters to our children. The time has come for us to rip up the manual that our father, grandfather, and grandfather used which showed fatherhood from an authoritative perspective but not a relational one. The standard of real manhood being in our sons and daughters lives by teaching them how to honor and respect their parents, themselves and their God. The standard of manhood for us as fathers means showing them what their gifts and talents are and teaching them life skills and trades which will help them to support themselves later on in life. It does not matter if you are the biological father, godfather or stepfather allow the Lord to show you how to make your place in your child’s life. As men, we follow the example of manhood that Joseph lived and stop provoking our children to wrath but raise them up in the admonition and the nurturing of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).