Though Joseph worked hard as a carpenter all of his life, none of his handiwork survived—just his name, his reputation and his legacy: the child he raised that wasn’t even his. Why didn’t God choose another Joseph?
There was Joseph son of Antipater, the brother of Herod the Great and a high ranking soldier. If God chose him, Jesus would have been raised as a man of power, prestige, privilege—a leader, conqueror and warrior.
Or God could have chosen Joseph of Arimathea, a rich, high ranking council member of the Sanhedrin. With this Joseph as his father, Jesus might have been raised as a man without need or want, a man who could sway opinion and influence political compromise with just a glance.
Then there was Joseph Caiaphas, a high priest of the Jews, a man who could insight riots as well as worship. In his house, Jesus might have been raised to be a man in control of the Temple of God, and a man in control of Jerusalem itself.
But God chose Joseph of Nazareth, a man from a place of which was said, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"—John 1:46. By choosing Joseph of Nazareth, Jesus was raised in a common town—a lowly place that lacked culture—with a rude dialect and an immoral, irreligious and unethical reputation.
God chose the poor carpenter, Joseph, whose offering at the Temple was just two doves. Through Mary, Joseph would father at least two daughters, four natural sons and one supernatural son—Jesus.
When we discuss the birth of Jesus, we cannot forget that no man, including Joseph, ever touched Mary. If Jesus was conceived of any means other than a virgin birth, Jesus’ blood would have lost its purity, and we would remain in our sins.
Can you image the difficult decisions Joseph had to make, even before Jesus was born? In today’s society, he may have insisted that Mary get an abortion, because they weren’t married and the baby wasn’t his. In Joseph’s society, he had a right to have Mary stoned to death for her presumed adultery.
C. S. Lewis wrote, “The grounds for belief and disbelief are the same today as they were two thousand or ten thousand years ago. If Joseph had lacked faith to trust God or humility to perceive the holiness of his spouse, he could have disbelieved in the miraculous origin of her Son as easily as any modern man; and any modern man who believes in God can accept the miracle as easily as Joseph did.”
Consider all that Joseph had to overcome: His fiancé became pregnant. The whole town wanted him to disown her. An angel came and revealed the whole truth. He had to make the arduous 80 mile trek of many days from Nazareth to Bethlehem, with a pregnant wife and a donkey. When he arrived, there was nowhere for them to stay, since family members had probably rejected them. They gave birth to their first child without a nurse, a hospital, or sterile facilities. Imagine how afraid they would be! Imagine the courage of Joseph, the man God chose.
Then the lowly shepherds came, describing how supernatural messengers had told them Joseph’s child was the Christ—the savior of the world. Later royal visitors would come, bearing fantastic gifts and describing a miraculous star that led them to Joseph’s child.
Their peaceful lives were broken when another holy messenger came to Joseph to warn him of Herod’s plot to kill Jesus. Joseph obeyed, packed up his family and fled to Egypt until Herod’s death, all the while, raising Jesus in the faith and loving him as his own son.
Joseph gives us a beautiful picture of adoption and is an example of how God the Father loves all who believe in Him. This is why God chose Joseph.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”—John 1:12-13
This year, as we think about Christmas, remember Joseph, whose example of adoption reflects the heavenly example of God, who desires to be our father--your father, through spiritual adoption.
“…you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” – Romans 8:15-16
This is why Jesus came.
John the Baptist never did a miracle, never spoke in tongues, never fed 3000, never preached to thousands in a stadium, yet Jesus said of him, "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist;” – Matthew 11:11
John the Baptist said - "He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30
In this one verse I find what is so special about John the Baptist and I see a recurring theme of humility and selflessness running throughout the Bible.
As an American, this whole concept is foreign. We are taught to lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps, be all that we can be, climb higher, run faster, make more, exceed your goal, win at all costs.
While Americans are striving for the most, God is telling us to strive to be the least.
Jesus said – "But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” – Mark 10:31.
“…whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.” – Mark 10:43b
As we die to our self-will, that is choose to do God’s will instead of our own, we will naturally become focused on others. Our focus will first be on Jesus, then on other people.
Yes the Bible says “I can do all things,” but it adds “through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
Author David Chappel wrote, “Ask any Christian, ‘Do you want Christ to be glorified?’ and the answer will, of course, be “Yes!” But consider what this answer cost John the Baptist. Christ increasing meant that John’s influence and ministry was decreasing! It’s easy to say we want Christ to be exalted, but are we willing for His exaltation to come at our expense? We naturally rebel at losing anything we hold dear—including our pride, but death to self is the only way we can truly exalt Christ.”
Jesus says that we must die to our “self” - Matt 16:24-26 "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
It is not until we let our selfish ambitions die, will we truly live, flourish and multiply.
Jesus uses a kernel of grain as a an example: John 12:24- 26 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”
Be careful not to confuse “dying to self” with eastern mysticism’s idea of “emptying yourself”. All meditation leaves is an empty vessel – an “empty self”. Jesus is talking about death, which leads to life. Jesus calls it being “born again.”
The Apostle Paul captured this in Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Author John Gregory Mantle wrote, “There is a great difference between realizing, ‘On that Cross He was crucified for me,’ and ‘On that Cross I am crucified with Him.’ The one aspect brings us deliverance from sin’s condemnation, the other from sin’s power.”
Many have accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His shed blood for atonement of sins. But have they been “crucified with Him?”
As we look into the mirror of God’s Word and study ourselves, through the scripture, we recognize ourselves in the descriptions of sin. We see ourselves oh so plainly.
But if we let the mirror of God’s word teach us and cleanse us and mold us into His likeness – we will see the image of ourselves decrease, and the image of Christ in us, increase.
This is what John the Baptist did when he stated “He must increase and I must decrease.” John was an ordinary man, not unlike you and me, who gave himself to serving God and won the praise of Jesus himself.
We cannot call Him “Lord” if we are still in charge.
Pastor Jay Merritt
Pastor Jay Merritt writes about God in every day observations.