Dave looked last night at the character of Joseph, another supporting character in the birth stories of Jesus.

Joseph was a skilled carpenter in Nazareth. Doubtless he learned his trade from his father, Jacob, and would have expected his family to continue in this trade. He was pledged to be married to Mary and was probably envisaging a quiet future with his wife. The angelic visit, confirming Mary’s confusing words to him, must have come as quite a shock!

Mary’s news would have devastated Joseph and rocked his world. Tales of angels and miraculous conceptions must have seemed too incredible to be believed. He loved Mary and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, but could not cope with the news she had given him. Into the tumult of this confusion, an angel appeared to him in a dream (Matt 1:18-25) with startling confirmation and direction.

Joseph was required to embrace a mystery. A different role was required from him than that which he had perhaps envisaged for himself. He has to accept by faith the impossible, learning that with God, nothing is impossible. He learns the all-important lesson that salvation is what God does for us, not what we do for God.

Joseph has to go about the child’s business from now on. His function is to provide the child with a home and give Him a name, thus linking the lineage of Jesus to that of David. Joseph is there at His birth in the humble stable and eight days later takes Him to be circumcised according to the law, giving Him that all important name, Jesus, ‘for He shall save His people from their sins.’ He is a powerful example of obedience to us.

Joseph’s sensitivity and obedience are reflected in his willingness to flee to Egypt when commanded and to return when instructed. He has learned, in the words of the old hymn, to ‘trust and obey’.

Joseph accepted the mission of embracing the child and going about His business. We too need to be about the business of the Son, seeking to do His will in everything we do.