What was it like to be Joseph?



This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. –Matthew 1:18-25


Joseph has such an under-recognized role in the Christmas story. His faith astounds me. I see it from the beginning, in his first response to Mary. He shows compassion, not wanting to shame her, even when it would have been his right to do so.

Then, the story shifts, as he gets his experience with an angel. But I wonder, why a dream? Why not a wide awake experience with an angel, like was given to Zechariah and Mary? Why was he left to wake up, rub his eyes, and wonder if it was all true or just something he ate?

Was it because he had enough faith to hear the message in this way?

Joseph had so much to accept. Mary might have doubted her visit with the angel, but she would have known with 100% certainty that she had never had sex with a man. As she watched her growing belly and felt the increasing movement from within her womb, she would have had continual confirmation that something beyond her imagination was happening.

Joseph could never have proof that Mary had not cheated on him with another man. His only confirmation were the words of an angel spoken not even face to face, but in a dream. Through faith in those words, Joseph committed to walk with Mary into the unknown. He stayed by her side, and stood in as the father on earth to a child not from his seed. With this story as the backdrop, it is not difficult to imagine how Joseph loved Jesus as his own son.

I can think of few examples of people with Joseph’s mix of strength, compassion, and faith.

I hope I can see Jesus through his eyes this Christmas.


Father in heaven, teach us how to love as Joseph loved. Give us his faith. Share with us his compassion. May we have the courage to follow you into the unknown as he did. Show us something new as we see Christmas through his eyes. Amen.


Joseph’s Lullaby- Mercy Me

“I believe the glory of Heaven Is lying in my arms tonight Lord, I ask that He for just this moment Simply be my child”


Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.