Commentary by Walter Albritton


December 15


Joseph, a Faithful Model for Believers

Matthew 1:18-25; 2:13-23

Key Verse: Matthew 1:24, 25


            Perhaps we have paid too little attention to Joseph. However, we are wise to study the response of this good man to divine directions. Joseph is a splendid model for believers. His situation was unique. However, his opportunity to obey God is universal. The eternal destiny of every person depends upon his or her willingness to trust and obey God.

            Joseph received his instructions in a dream, given him by an angel. A lesser man might have dismissed the advice. Not many people are prone to take dreams seriously.  Joseph, however, obeyed the angel, doing what he believed God wanted him to do. He put aside his own plan to end his commitment to Mary; instead, he brought her into his home, and cared for her until Jesus was born.

            Our own plans spring from our pride. We think we know what is best. We need no one’s advice, not even the counsel of God. God tests our faith every time he says, “Do it my way, not your way. My way is best, even if you lack complete understanding.”

            We should not expect Joseph to comprehend how this baby would “save his people from their sins.” Nevertheless, he names the baby Jesus as instructed, and embraces his role in the miraculous birth. He has faith in God even though he does not understand the great plan of God for the salvation of the world.

            None of us ever comprehends all that God is doing in the events of our lives. He does not require that we understand. He does require that we respond as Joseph did, in faithful obedience. Joseph was an ordinary man called into God’s service. God still calls and uses ordinary men who will faithfully do what he asks them to do.

            The flight into Egypt is another example of Joseph’s obedience. Again, an angel gives him directions in a dream. Joseph must act quickly to save Jesus from death at the hands of wicked Herod the Great. Losing no time, Joseph leaves in the night and escorts his little family to safety in Egypt.

            Later Joseph is again instructed by the angel to take Mary and Jesus into Israel. Those who wished to kill Jesus are now dead. Therefore, Joseph carries out his orders, taking Mary and Jesus to live in Nazareth, where they had once lived.

            We know little of what happened during the childhood of Jesus. We may be sure that Joseph and Mary taught Jesus, and their other children, the Holy Scriptures. We may be sure that theirs was a godly home where children were taught to pray and to love God with all their hearts.

            Skill in carpentry requires patience. We can imagine Jesus learning much about patience as he grew up in the home of Joseph the carpenter. Perhaps Jesus even assisted Joseph in constructing the very furniture that was used in their humble home, and in making fine yokes that were used to work oxen in and around Nazareth.

            Joseph was not a prominent man. He was an ordinary man, a carpenter. This fact should get our attention. Repeatedly the Bible shows us that God chooses common people to do his will.

            He calls men and women in different ways. He is not limited to the use of angels who deliver messages in dreams. What God once did, he can do again, if he chooses. However, he can reach a man’s heart by a thousand stairways.

            Joseph can be for us an example of how to respond to God. Whenever, and however God speaks to us, we can listen and obey. What he asks of most of us will be little things, not impressive assignments. We need not comprehend the entire mission. It will be enough simply to embrace faithfully the tasks given us.

            Mother Teresa said it best: “We cannot all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” When we do, not caring who receives the credit, God’s work is done in God’s way to God’s glory.

            God used Joseph to help the world see Jesus. God wants to use our quiet, humble deeds of love and mercy to show Jesus to the world. People can see Jesus in our ordinary, everyday lives, when we do our best to follow the directions God has given us for living.

            Sherrill Morrison has never preached a sermon in his church. He has never been considered one the church’s prominent, influential leaders. However, Sunday after Sunday he stands in the sanctuary to welcome people to worship. He does it with love.  He makes each person feel important. He greets them with love and makes them feel welcome. God uses Sherrill’s obedience in this simple task to cause people to see Jesus and to feel that they are needed for the Master’s work.

            No task is small in the eyes of God. No duty God assigns is insignificant. In the grand scheme of things, God will take the faithfulness of many ordinary disciples and weave it into a beautiful tapestry.

            Let us give thanks if our obedience, in the smallest of assignments, can become one small thread in the magnificent needlepoint being created by the skillful hands of the Father. + + +