Summary: To many, Joseph is a mere footnote in biblical history but we can be sure that God was as concerned with who would be the earthly “father” of His Son as He was of who would be His mother.
JOSEPH, A REMARKABLE FATHER
The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. 20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:18-21 (HCSB)
To many, Joseph is a mere footnote in biblical history. But we can be sure that God was as concerned with who would be the earthly “father” of His Son as He was of who would be His mother.
We are able to discern much about this man. Although of royal lineage, he was given to hard, honest work as a carpenter. As was common in Jewish culture of that day, Jesus followed in the same occupation as His earthly father (Mark 6:3).
John 6:42 lets us know that Joseph lived at least to this point in the ministry of Jesus. We can safely assume that Joseph died a short time later, prior to the crucifixion of our Lord. The reason for this assumption is John 19:25-27 which reads, “Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing there, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (HCSB) Jesus would not likely to have said that if His mother’s natural guardian, her husband, was still living.
Let us now focus on the aspects of Joseph’s life that qualify him as an excellent role model for all fathers everywhere.
I. JOSEPH WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN
“So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man…” (Matthew 1:19 HCSB)
This speaks to the personal character of Joseph. The Greek word äίêáéïò may correctly be translated “righteous” or “just” meaning “acting or being in conformity with divine or moral law”. Joseph, as the head of his household, honored the Law of Moses and taught his family to do likewise. This fact is embodied in the Scripture which describes him as “righteous” or “just”.
The evidence of his faithfulness to the Law of Moses is recorded in Luke 2:21-24. “When the eight days were completed for His circumcision, He was named JESUS—the name given by the angel before He was conceived. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).”
II. JOSEPH WAS A MAN OF GREAT FAITH
But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” “When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him.” (Matthew 1: 20-21; 24 HCSB)
It is significant to note that the angel Gabriel personally appeared to Mary to inform her that she would be the mother of the promised Messiah; but “an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream” telling Joseph not to fear taking Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:20). It was also in a dream that an angel instructed Joseph to "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." (Luke 2:13 NKJV). In both instances, Joseph did not doubt, question or ponder even though it was in dreams that he saw and heard the angels’ admonitions. Joseph, nonetheless, was obedient
III. JOSEPH WAS A MAN OF GREAT SELF-CONTROL
‘He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.’ (Matthew 1: 24b-25 HCSB)