advent lettering

O Come All Ye Faithful


Today's Reading

Matthew 1:18-24

We don’t know a whole lot about Joseph. We know his profession—carpentry. We know his genealogy—a son of David. We know his plans—marriage and fatherhood. We know that all those plans changed when he heard of Mary’s pregnancy.

Matthew is really the only author to take the time to provide Joseph’s perspective in the story. It makes some sense because Matthew’s narrative is about the coming King Jesus, and his genealogy focuses on Joseph, but it is interesting that so little is written about Jesus’ stepfather.

What we do know about him, however, is incredibly significant.

First, we see Joseph’s heart—he was a righteous man. When he found out about Mary, he could have exposed her to ridicule and persecution. After all, she was pledged to be his wife, and now she is telling him a story about giving birth to a child, and not just any child, but the Son of God. How outlandish does that sound?

Instead, he began to make plans very quietly to call the marriage off before it went any further. Put yourself in his shoes, and his choice does seem honorable.

Second, we see that he was obedient. Whereas the angel appeared to Zechariah and Mary in person, for Joseph it came in a dream.

“Joseph, God wants you to change your plans. Mary is telling the truth, and the baby she carries is special. In fact, this is all fulfilling what you have read from the prophets. And when He arrives, call Him Jesus, because He will save people from their sins.”

Then Joseph woke up and obeyed.

So simple and straightforward. Unlike the previous encounters of Zechariah or Mary, Joseph had no questions. He simply obeyed.

Mary came to live with him. They got the home ready, and he helped to care for her during the pregnancy. And when the baby arrived, he didn’t insist on a family name. He didn’t call him Jacob after his father or David after the great ancestor or even Joseph after himself.

No; instead, he did what was commanded of him and named Him Jesus.

Joseph heard the word of the Lord, and Joseph obeyed the word of the Lord.

How are we doing with that? How often do we hear a clear command from the Lord and instead question it? Do we come up with a world of excuses about why it just won’t work and why our plans are better than his plans?

Or do we obey?

In preparing our hearts for advent, we must begin with Mary’s heart of humility, but that has to be followed by Joseph’s willingness to obey.

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