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.