Today is FATHERS’ DAY. I want to speak to you about a man – a FATHER – who is very often overlooked, I think. In some quarters he is overshadowed by the prominence given to his wife. I’m talking about JOSEPH, the husband of Mary and the adopted father of Jesus.
There was a film in the early 80’s called “Who Will Love My Children”. It tells the story of a young family with 10 children and the mother finds out she is dying and sets off to find parents for her children thinking that the father could not care for them all without help…
Just like that woman who loved her children so much that she wanted to personally choose parents for them, and not leave it to chance, Our Father in Heaven also went looking for parents to raise His beloved, only-begotten Son. He searched the earth, and He found a young girl – a teenager engaged to be married – of whom the Bible says: “found favour with God”. She was a choice young lady. A God-fearing young lady. But our Father in Heaven, who loves us so much knew that His only Son would need a Father. A protector and provider for this young girl who was to bear the savior of the world. Of course, Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Ghost – a miracle took place so there was no need for a man to be involved in the conception. But a man WAS still needed to fill the role of father in Jesus’ childhood.
Now I do not want this Sermon to turn into a debate on single parents, dead beat dads, etc. That is an entirely different topic, and if that is the way that God has seen fit in His wisdom for your situation to be (whether temporary or permanent) then He will guide you and give you what you need.
Back to Joseph…..
So, Joseph was chosen. And just as God had looked for a godly young woman to bring forth the child, so He looked for a godly man to be the father. And what an inspiring model of fatherhood Joseph was. God made a good choice! (He is a WISE God.) Let’s look together, for a few minutes, at some things the Bible tells us about this man Joseph.
Firstly, would you note with me that he was:
1. A LOVING MAN.
The Scriptures draw the picture for us of a wonderfully caring and affectionate man. And we can see this, firstly, in his relationship toward Mary.
a.) TOWARD MARY.
Look at MATTHEW 1:19 for example. Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant. He hasn’t had any great revelation yet. What is he to think? What would YOU think guys? You’ve fallen in love with this pretty young girl. You do all the right things. You pursue her in the proper customary way. In stolen moments you’ve talked with her about dreams for a future together. A cottage with a white picket fence. A family. A business. And then out of the blue you learn that this sweet girl (you thought you knew so well) is pregnant. NEWLY pregnant. And you don’t know who the father is – but there is one person you know you can rule out! How does it make you feel? Angry? Betrayed?
The penalty for adultery in the Old Testament was death by stoning. And this penalty applied to infidelity during betrothal as well as marriage. Now by New Testament times things had changed somewhat, but the matter was still treated as a grave offence. Upon discovery that Mary was pregnant, Joseph would have been obliged to divorce her (DIVORCE WAS REQUIRED TO BREAK OFF A BETROTHAL ENGAGEMENT), and this would expose Mary to public shame and humiliation.
BUT, even before God spoke to Joseph – Joseph didn’t have any vengeance or bitterness in his heart. The Bible says: he “was minded to put her away secretly”. (There were ways in which a divorce could be enacted very quietly, without the involvement of a judge, and Joseph was already considering the best way to do this.
Joseph was kind. He LOVED Mary. Forget the MILLS AND BOON” romance novels – this here is a fair-dinkum love story. It’s based on a real commitment. And husbands, the Bible says to US today that WE must love our wives with all that we have. [READ: Ephesians 5:25.] NB – the example is that we must love our wives sacrificially, even as Christ loved the church and lay down His life for it.
Joseph was a loving man toward Mary.
But we also see that Joseph was a loving man in his relationship toward Jesus
When the child came along – the child he had not conceived – there was no attitude in Joseph that “THIS BOY ISN’T MY FLESH AND BLOOD”. There was no resentment or indifference toward Him; no lack of love at all. JOSEPH ADOPTED JESUS AS HIS OWN. He protected Him from the hatred of Herod. He nurtured Him and cared for Him. Evidently he taught Jesus his own trade of carpentry. HE ADOPTED THE ONE THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD WOULD REJECT.
TODAY, by contrast, we see men who are prepared to abdicate their role even toward their own children. Men are opting out of the father role because of it’s costs. Do you know what the Bible says? [1 TIMOTHY 5:8]: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever!”
SECONDLY: Joseph was . . .
. A DEVOUT MAN.
a.) He was a man who OBEYED God.
He explicitly followed the Lord’s leading and direction. He didn’t follow his own marked-out plan for life – he wanted God’s plan for his life. So when God spoke to him in a dream and told him to marry Mary (even though she was pregnant) HE OBEYED.
Then when God spoke and said: “Take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt for safety” – he immediately obeyed. He closed up his business and left.
Then when God said: “It’s O.K. now, head back to Israel”. again he did as he was directed. He was a man of obedience
He was a man of FAITH.
It takes FAITH to pack your bags and head off to a foreign country with no prospects and no planning; simply on the basis that God said so. He had faith and obeyed the dream. He could have made excuses to stay where the prospects looked good, but NO – he was a man of faith.
JOSEPH WAS A WISE MAN.
Now listen to me carefully here. Joseph was wise because he lived as one who REDEEMED THE TIME.
By all accounts it seems that Joseph had a SHORTENED LIFE. We don’t read of him after Jesus’ childhood, and at the Cross Jesus charged John with the care of His mother – so it seems that Joseph was taken from them prematurely. But JOSEPH HAD USED WHAT TIME HE HAD BEEN GIVEN HONOURABLE – WISELY! He had provided for his family. He has set an example for them that they would remember. He had raised them in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.
Jesus was not the only child he had; he raised other boys for the Lord also, and possibly daughters as well. He had other sons – TWO OF THEM (at least) WERE GREATLY USED BY GOD. They wrote books of the Bible (James and Jude). James was leader of the church in Jerusalem.
Joseph raised his children in the ways of the Lord, and He left behind him a legacy after his lifetime.
So to you fathers here today I say this in closing. MAN UP, follow after our Heavenly Father, and TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS……………
(This sermon was inspired by a sermon written by Rev. Phil Morgan)