Joseph is Underrated

Not many Sunday School flannel graphs, in my experience, have been dedicated to the importance of Joseph’s role in Jesus’s life and ministry. That is my poor excuse for not really thinking very deeply about Jesus’ adoption before now. But now the Lord has called me and my family to adoption, and the Holy Spirit is moving and teaching us many things about adoption.

I’ve been reading Russell Moore’s Adopted for Life, and it has a killer chapter in it: Joseph of Nazareth vs. Planned Parenthood. As I thought about it, it’s mainly the focus of the worldview that differentiates these two. One has God in the sights, the other has man. One has obedience and the other has convenience. What really had the biggest impact on me from this chapter is how much God accomplished through Joseph’s simple, albeit difficult obedience.

Moore said, “When Mary tells Joseph she is pregnant, his first reaction isn’t a cheery ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.'” After I stopped laughing, reread Matthew 1, and thought through it; It’s pretty amazing what happened.

No, he wasn’t singing Christmas carols; he sought to divorce her until God came to him and explained his plan. Did God explain it all at once for Joseph? Nope – just what he needed for that time. He didn’t explain that in the coming months or so, you’ll need to take a small self-guided, self-funded tour of Egypt. That bit Joseph got when he needed it. But in the mean time, Jesus’ adopted dad was acting in obedience to his heavenly Dad.

What did Joseph accomplish? The obvious is that he protected the Christ, God in human flesh, from being killed. He fulfilled Hosea’s prophesy: Out of Egypt I called my son. (Hosea 11) Lastly, and the one that I like the most: In adopting Jesus, Joseph fulfilled another major prophesy about the Christ; namely, that he would be a descendant of David (Isaiah 16). You may agree pretty quickly as I did, but as I thought about it – well, Joseph wasn’t his biological father…

Wait a minute. The Scriptures are putting adoption on the same level as biological conception for purposes of inheritance and belonging. That probably sounds familiar, doesn’t it? When we, as Christians, place our faith in what Christ has done for us, we are adopted into God’s family and are fellow heirs with Christ (Galatians 3:29, Romans 8:16-17). [[The implications for how we are to think about, talk to, and consider adopted children in light of this truth is worth another post altogether – another time, God willing.]]

Joseph modeled obedience and in doing so he played a major role in the history of the redemption of God’s children. Did he know that he was fulfilling so many prophecies, or realize the impact of his actions on me and the world? I doubt it. Nobody’s writing songs about him. No best sellers. No ‘Hail Josephs’. Only cameos in nativity scenes for the father, the chosen father of the Savior of the world.

Have I mentioned he’s underrated?

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