“To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph…” Luke 1:27
Little attention is given to the earthly father of Jesus, but he played a very important role. We commend Mary for saying “…be it unto me according to thy word,” but Joseph had to submit to God’s will as well. We read three times in Matthew 1 & 2 that the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream with a message. Each time, he responded with explicit obedience. Matthew tells us that Joseph was a just man; he was probably also devout, dedicated, and righteous. He loved Mary, and in the face of what appeared to be unfaithfulness he was willing to divorce her in a way to spare her life and cause her as little embarrassment as possible. Matthew also tells us Joseph “thought on these things.” He was not impulsive or rash in decision making. When told by the angel not to be afraid to wed Mary, there is no record of Joseph’s questioning or arguing. Did he know the prophecy in Isaiah 9 that the Messiah would be born of a virgin? Did he ever imagine in his wildest dreams that he would be the earthly father to Immanuel? In taking Mary as his wife, he was subjected to the same painful gossip she endured; he was one of the few who believed her story. He did not have an intimate marital relationship with her until after Jesus was born, proving himself to be a man of purity, self-control, and respect. Joseph was instrumental in Jesus’ growing in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man. He took his family on the yearly trek to Jerusalem for the Passover, concerned for the spiritual well-being of his family. The Bible last records Joseph when Jesus was twelve years old and was lost in Jerusalem. There is no account of any words spoken by Joseph; he played a behind the scenes role, yet he was a very important character.