Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The patience of Joseph is often overlooked in the nativity narrative. Before Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph had to first accept their unique calls. To father and mother the Messiah was an exclusive task, so wrestling in advance of God’s plan had meaningful implications. We can only speculate what Mary was thinking as Gabriel announced her favoring. If Mary did have any doubt in her ability to nurture the King of Kings, she had enough belief within to say what she needed to: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:42, NKJV)
Joseph’s struggle, conversely, is more apparent. Perhaps Joseph possessed greater unbelief. Perhaps trust hadn’t been solidified in his relationship with Mary. Perhaps his skepticism centered more on his incapacity to deal with other people’s thoughts. Whatever the case, we can be assured that Joseph loved Mary, as he sought to guard news of her pregnancy. If Joseph did have any belief in Mary’s testimony prior to his angelic encounter, his hope could not compete with vain imaginations. Fear prompted Joseph to detach himself from his destiny, but a divine dream would stir him to obedience. Obedience would then open the door for his patience to shine through.
Isaiah 7:13-14 (NLT)
"Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Note the only word repeated twice in the Isaiah 7 prophesy: patience. God needed Joseph to not only trust His word, but be faithful in every circumstance. The passing of Jesus as Son of God to Son of Man required parents of patience.
After fulfilling the Lord’s command to marry Mary, Joseph was not entirely out of the woods. In order for the Virgin Birth to be realized, Joseph had to withhold sexual intimacy from Mary until post-birth for the prophecy to be fulfilled. Many would argue the weight Joseph carried made it easy to be faithful to God's word. But despite successful submission, Joseph must have been occasionally anxious in postponing consummation. Again, patience was in order, and Joseph, being a good man, had learned to live in new reliance on the Lord, enabling him to remain faithful in testing times. His obedience and patience allowed the perfection of God to kiss His foothold.
Romans 5:17, 19 (NLT)
“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”