Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Christmas Gift Part Two - Joseph: Protector of the Gift

There’s something precious about the way husbands look after their wives when they’re pregnant. Even the most capable, athletic, and independent woman is suddenly treated as special and fragile. And we love it! After all, there’s a new life growing inside our own body.

We are constantly aware our baby is completely dependent on us for survival. (How often do you see a pregnant woman with her hand resting on her tummy?) Pregnancy also brings out a tender protectiveness in her man.

Suddenly he’s opening doors for her, watching what she eats (not always a plus!), making sure she gets enough rest, and rubbing her aching back and feet. After all, this child came from his own body. It is evidence of the love they share; a gift from the hand of God.

Have you ever wondered how Joseph must have felt about Mary's pregnancy? At first, he thought she had broken their engagement vows. He began planning a quiet divorce, until God revealed the truth to him. Joseph had to endure all the same assumptions and ridicule heaped on Mary. Yet he accepted it as part of the plan. But what exactly was his role?

Jesus wasn’t his child, and yet Joseph fulfilled his fatherly responsibility as protector and provider. Scripture doesn't tell us how this couple felt about each other, but I like the possibilities presented in the movie Nativity. They show how Joseph wins Mary’s admiration through his tender sacrifice and concern.

The book of Matthew supports this portrayal of Joseph’s character:  
  • Joseph was devoted to God and keeping His law, yet full of mercy (Matthew 1:18-24)
  • When God spoke, Joseph listened and obeyed, every time – even in the middle of the night (Matthew 2:13-15)
  • His first priority in life became the protection of his wife and the Christ child (Matthew 2:19-23)
Imagine how this must have played out over the years. Joseph and Mary had other children and all the normal parental responsibilities. Add to that the training and education of the Savior. No pressure there! But Joseph quietly did his job. So quietly, in fact, that there are no direct quotes from him in the Bible. And there is no mention of him after Jesus reaches the age of twelve. What happened to Joseph? The Bible doesn’t say. All we know is that he did his part as Jesus’ earthly father.

We are a little like Joseph. Believers are entrusted with the treasure of Jesus Christ. And our job is to protect that gift. As Paul said to young Timothy: “Guard what has been entrusted to your care” (1Timothy 6:20). “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us" (2 Timothy 1:14).

Jesus is no longer a helpless baby; He is the risen, reigning King. Yet, there are still ways we can protect Him. Joseph protected Him from gossip; we can protect Jesus’ reputation by standing up for Him and being worthy of His name. Joseph protected Jesus by doing whatever the Father told him to do. Our obedience (even when we don’t understand why), keeps Jesus alive in our hearts. Joseph made sure that Jesus grew in strength and maturity. When we nurture our relationship with Jesus, we strengthen His power to work in and through us.

Even if I am never quoted; even if I disappear into history without a trace - I want to spend my life making sure Jesus lives in me. If His purpose is fulfilled through me, that will be enough. How about you? Are you willing to protect the Gift of Christmas no matter what it takes?

1 comment:

  1. The following excerpt from part two stopped me:
    "We are a little like Joseph. All believers are entrusted with the treasure of Jesus Christ. And our job is to protect that gift."
    A powerful truth yet I often misplace it when I forget to look beyond Him protecting me.
    Imagine being entrusted with the greatest gift ever. Our hearts have good reason to overflow with joy not only at Christmas but every day of the year.