When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24–25)
Joseph obeyed. Not a lot of hoopla or fanfare. He woke up and did what the angel commanded. A few words come to my mind after studying this passage.
Faith. Like Mary, Joseph by faith trusted what the angel said. The angel appeared to Mary when she was awake; Joseph’s vision was in a dream. There was no dialogue between Joseph and the angel. God confirmed in Joseph’s heart the truth of the visit so that there was no doubt. Joseph still could have disobeyed, like Jonah did when he ran from God, but he didn’t. Joseph simply trusted God’s words from the angel and obeyed.
Submission. Joseph in humility submitted himself to God’s plan and God’s words. He wasn’t prepared for this. He didn’t plan to be the adopted father of Jesus. There was no training course, no models to look to. He simply gave his life to follow the will of God, fully and completely without reservation.
Fear and shame. He was afraid to divorce, afraid for her and himself for what people would say when they heard. He was also afraid to keep her, because people would gossip more if they stayed together even though she was pregnant. The unfounded shame would be evident. He could avoid more shame by divorcing Mary, but he didn’t. Joseph did not let fear and shame rule his life.
“Joseph illustrates the capacity for difficult obedience that flows from the knowledge that Jesus is our Immanuel, God with us, to bless us” (Doriani). The triune God of the universe planned to work through Joseph, and he asked Joseph to trust him. God asks each of us to trust him as well. God wants to work through you and me. Are you willing by faith to let him use you?