The Other Character at the First Christmas
There is a story of courage that took place at the first Christmas. We often miss it because our focus is on a young mother and a baby. But the character I want us to focus on was in the story, too. He heard firsthand that his bride-to-be was pregnant, and he knew for sure it was not his child. This was difficult for him to deal with, but he wanted to handle the situation properly.
As he thought about what to do, he experienced a personal message from God because of the extraordinary event. Because of his courage, he stood by the manger where the baby was laid. He provided protection for the mother and child during the early years of the child’s life. The man’s name, of course, is Joseph.
In the midst of the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus, we find an ordinary man by the name of Joseph. Many of us don’t view biblical characters as ordinary, do we? Many times we attribute to them almost super-human powers. Most of the time that is not the case. They were people just like you and me. They had problems, fears, doubts, and worries just like you and me, yet God is able to use them. In fact, that is a major theme of the Bible.
Joseph was an ordinary man, but He was a man God could trust to be strong in the midst of crisis. He was strong and resilient enough to protect his family. Matthew says it this way, “He was a good man.” In other words, he was a man of honor. Did he have concerns? Yes, but he was a man, as the Scriptures tells us, that was “good.” Joseph was an ordinary man, yet he was a good man. What that means is that Joseph displayed moral courage. Joseph displayed the character of God in his own life. That’s tough to do sometimes, isn’t it?
We can only imagine how Joseph must have felt when he found out that Mary was pregnant. His natural response would have been that she had been unfaithful to him. He knew the child was not his. She must have been unfaithful. What emotions do you think he would have? Shock, disappointment, embarrassment, sorrow, anger…Probably a mixture of all. Yet Joseph’s character enabled him to keep a rein on his emotions. His love for God and for Mary compelled him to seek a way to protect her.
Joseph faced down his own emotions and courageously chose to protect Mary. Can you imagine rumors that must have spread through the community? The neighbors would have thought that they had broken the law. Obviously, the neighbors thought that they were having a sexual relationship.
Regardless of what others say or think, we must do what Joseph did. It is always the right time to do the right thing. God gives us the courage to face our own doubts and fears and also the rumors of others.
It would take unrelenting courage to deal with the life that Joseph had to face.
In the case of Joseph, he was given a vision – a dream to help reinforce his faith. He knew the neighbor’s opinion of him would change. He knew the rumors would be flying. But he also knew that God had spoken to him in a special way. The scriptures say, “As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.”
More than likely, we will not receive a divine vision when we face times of crisis, but we do have the entirety of God’s Word available to us where all of the answers to life’s questions can be found.
When we face doubts, when we face fears, when we face an uncertain future, we are tempted to avoid the wilderness. We like our comfort zones. If we are approaching an area of the unknown, we try to find another way around or to make a U-turn to avoid it. We are afraid of the wilderness. There might be giants there. There might be bullies there. There might be rumors and teasing. There might be hardships and struggles. It is only by a journey through the wilderness that we will reach the Promised Land. If we make the journey, God will be with us. Think of what Joseph had to endure and remember…
God gives courage to ordinary people like you and me and Joseph.
God gives the courage to face our doubts and fears.
God gives the courage to face the future.
Trust in God. Believe in Him.
No matter what you are going through He will be there with you.
What a marvelous story of courage that we find in this ordinary and humble man, Joseph. Dare to be a Joseph. Dare to be ordinary but good. We can be courageous and remain good in the face of hardships, ridicule, and slander. We should all endeavor to be like Joseph in our lives.
“God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”
Look at how Paul states this fact in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”