Summary: A Biblical Character Study (Joseph-Jesus’ step-father)


Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

INTRO: Children model their lives after those around them. God-fearing parents usually have Godfearing children because the children model their lives after the parents. Children model their lives after their teachers. All of us think back about teachers who have served as models for us. Children model their lives after the lives of their pastors. Very often young men wish to study for the ministry because of the influence of the pastor. Today Joseph is our model. He is our model of obedience to the Word of God and his companionship to Jesus.


Hebrews 11:7 tells us that Noah, 120 years before the flood, obediently prepared the ark although he could see no signs of its necessity. Hebrews 11:8 tells us that Abraham obeyed to go to a strange land although he did not know where he was going.

Similarly, the story of Joseph is a story of obedience to the voice from heaven.

When he and Mary became engaged to be married, before they came together as husband and wife, they discovered that Mary was pregnant. Joseph did not know that this was of the Holy Spirit. In a dream the angel of the Lord told him that Mary was pregnant because of the Holy Spirit and that Joseph should take her as wife.

The angel even told Joseph what the name of the boy should be. Joseph obeyed.

Joseph obeyed the decree of Caesar when he went, with Mary, to Bethlehem (Luke 2:4).

He obeyed the Scriptures about circumcision and presenting Jesus at the temple (Luke 2:21-24). Then they returned to Bethlehem and were visited by the wisemen.

When Jesus’ life was threatened by Herod, Joseph obeyed the voice from heaven which told him to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt (2:13). This required sacrifice, just as God required sacrifice from Noah and Abraham. Obedience very often requires sacrifice.

After some time in Egypt the voice from heaven told Joseph to return to Israel (Matthew 2:20). Herod was dead, no longer a threat to Jesus. Joseph promptly obeyed. But Archlaos, Herod’s, son was ruler in Judea. He was a very cruel man. Therefore, the heavenly voice once more directed Joseph to go, not to Bethlehem, but rather to Nazareth (Matthew 2:23; Luke 2:39). Joseph and Mary obediently went to the Passover in Jerusalem every year (Luke 2:41). They were pious, God-fearing parents who were a model to Jesus and also to us.


Not everyone who was with Jesus physically will be saved. Read Matthew 7:21-23. They did not do the will of Jesus’ Father in heaven. But when the Jewish authorities saw Peter and John’s boldness they recognized that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Peter and John had been with Jesus not only physically but also spiritually.

Joseph spent his time with Jesus in obedience to the Word of God. Peter and John spent three years with Jesus listening to His Word. The enemies of Jesus spent time with Jesus but His Word found no place in them (John 8:37). The disciples spent time with Jesus and He gave them God’s Word (John 17:14). Right from the beginning the disciples believed Him (John 2:11). They stayed with Jesus in His temptations (Luke 22:28).

Eleven of the twelve believed that Jesus had the Word of Life and therefore they believed in Him (John 6:68). They went to the ends of the earth preaching the forgiveness of sins for Jesus’ sake. They were models of faith and faithfulness.

Likewise Joseph was a model of faith and faithfulness. God spoke to him in dreams. But now since Christ has fulfilled all, He speaks to us through His Word (Hebrews 1:1-2; John 8:31-32). Now we have the Bible. Joseph did not have the New Testament as we have it today.

CONC: Joseph is our model of obedience to the heavenly message of the Word of God. God shows us our sin in the Law. God brings us forgiveness in the Gospel. We should be like Noah, Abraham, Joseph and the disciples.

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