Christmas is an appealing time of the year, associated with holiday cards, cheerful parties, talk about Mary, Jesus and the wise men; but not many people talk about Joseph, Jesus’ worldly father. I’d like to tell the Christmas story we don’t often hear, that’s from Joseph’s perspective.
Many of us know the romanticized version of the Christmas story: Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem to humble parents. You’ve heard about the angels, the wise men and expensive gifts, but have you ever considered the events leading up to Jesus’ birth? The circumstances were controversial to say the least.
You may have been married previously and be thinking about getting married again. Mary and Joseph were betrothed when Mary told Joseph she was pregnant. A foreign word in today’s terms, betrothed was an even stronger commitment than engagement, one that required a writ of divorce to break.
It was during their betrothal when Mary went to Joseph, who was not sexually active with Mary, and told him she is pregnant. I can imagine one of the first things that leapt into Joseph’s mind was, “It’s not mine,” and maybe even said to Mary, “Whose is it?”
We’re told that Joseph thought about leaving her, but he didn’t; he chose to believe Mary. Joseph’s friends questioned his decision to stay with his pregnant fiancée. I can imagine Joseph had moments when the pressure was so high, he felt doubt, betrayal or embarrassment; yet he stood by her. There was something in him that knew and believed against all odds that Mary was telling the truth - and she was.
This Christmas season, let us consider Joseph and what he was called to sacrifice. Joseph fought through a battle of scorn and ridicule but believed in God. He believed the child Mary carried was God’s son and accepted God’s call for him to care for both Mary and Jesus.
When you look at the family dynamics here, our eyes open -- maybe for the first time, to the fact that Jesus, Joseph and Mary are a blended family, a non-traditional family unit. What I mean by this is when the whole family sat down at the dinner table, the kids sitting around that table didn’t all have the same mom and dad. Joseph looked at Jesus, convinced by faith that Jesus was here to do what He said He was here to do and, yet Joseph acknowledged that at that table he was not Jesus’ father.
Jesus could have come into the world in a lot of ways, but He chose to come in and experience a blended family. Why? So He could minister to the thousands of us who are also from blended families. Jesus sat around that table knowing in His heart of hearts that Joseph was not His biological father. Could there also be people around your table this Christmas who are not biologically connected to you, but are now members of what you call your “family?”
The Bible shows us that fatherhood is much more than simply being the father of a child. Biblical fatherhood involves setting a godly example for our children and blessing them as our Heavenly Father has blessed us.
Often, we look to God and form our impression of who He is by how our father was. Some of us may have had great dads, some of us not so great, some of us horrible, but that all can be repaired. One thing that we see over and over in the Bible is fathers blessing their sons. There are a couple things that are always consistent, one being the laying on of hands. Some of you may have never received encouraging touches from your father or known only an inappropriate touch. God can heal that. Malachi 4:6 says, speaking of the Lord, “…And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…”
This whole Christmas season is wrapped around the fact the Jesus came to earth to die for our sins. While He was in our midst, He touched us and He spoke to us words of encouragement and affirmation over those who hadn’t heard them; such people as Matthew the tax collector, the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman who’d been married five times, and Joseph whose wife became pregnant not by him. Now, He wants us to be vehicles of blessing through touch and through words.
Like Joseph, God might be calling you to an untraditional path of Fatherhood. Maybe you and your spouse have created a blended family. Our idea of how we want life to go is not always God’s plan for our life. God’s plan is purposeful and perfect; during this Christmas season I encourage you to be the father your children need you to be, whether biological or other. Use Joseph as your example. God has called you to care for your family. Fulfilling His calling is the highest of achievements.
Pastor David McGee is founder of Cross the Bridge Ministries and the senior pastor of The Bridge Church in Kernersville, N.C.