by Molly Audiss
I realized at some point in my life, as I read and studied Scripture, that my mind would almost always categorize the people and events of the Bible as distant and different from myself. I guess if it seemed “long ago and far away” that it did not pertain to me, and I could be indifferent, as if reading a simple history book. This habit is probably common, but does us a disservice. The opposite is actually true. Bible characters, though living in a different culture and time period were all very HUMAN. They all had the same set of emotions, struggles, and desire for significance that you and I have today. When I began searching for common ground in each story of the Bible, it opened a new world for me.
This week, in listening again to the “Christmas story,” the account of Christ’s birth in Matthew 1 and 2, and Luke 1 and 2, I focused on Joseph, step-dad to Jesus. He is not a main player in the story. Actually, not much is mentioned about him or his actions. I have listed the things we do know, according to Scripture. It may surprise you how little is said of him, being that he has become famous in nativity sets through the centuries.
- Joseph had a godly heritage. He came from the line of David, which is a big deal. David was definitely the most beloved and famous of all kings in Israel’s history. He is known for seeking the heart of God. Unfortunately, this rich history did not do much for Joseph. Rome ruled Israel at this time, and there were no benefits for Joseph having David as an ancestor.
We may or may not come from a long line of Christians in our history. I am humbled by the fact that, on my side, and on my husband’s side, there were preachers in our past. Godly men who lived for Him. There were as many non-believers. You could probably say the same of your ancestry, if you studied it out long enough. The fact is, no one gets to chose where they are born, and to whom. We have no reason to be proud or ashamed of our past, because we had nothing to do with it. God placed us when and where He wanted us in our family line. It is our job to live a life dedicated to Jesus, for His glory. We all get that one chance to make our lives count for eternity.
- When Mary told Joseph that she was expecting a baby, he did not believe her story. You can’t really blame him; it is a pretty fantastic tale! He had to have confirmation by an angel through a dream to believe that she had not been unfaithful to him. In this culture, Joseph and Mary may not have fallen in love and chosen each other. More probably, their marriage had been arranged for years before they became husband and wife. We know that Mary for a righteous and godly girl (very likely a teenager), but no one can fault Joseph for disbelief in this situation. All Jewish people looked for a Messiah to come, all the way back to Adam and Eve. But no one knew all the circumstances by which he’d come. And this must have seemed outrageous to Joseph!
I am skeptical by nature. Are you? We can contribute this quality to our personality AND to our background. I grew up with parents and adults in my life who, for the most part, were loving and trusty-worthy. Yet still I see an automatic lack of trust in myself. Our sinful natures do not naturally trust. God gives us the ability to have faith. He gives this gift to everyone by measure. (Romans 12:3) Like anything good about us, it is God-given, not worked up on our own merit.
Faith is the most important part of a Christian. It is necessary daily, and worth asking God to help us grow in faith in Him and in His Word. Beyond that, deciding to see the good in people is sometimes difficult, but it brings us much more happiness than the alternative. People will fail us and hurt us, just as we will to them, but trust in the goodness of humanity is the best life!
Next week we will look at more qualities of the stepfather of the Messiah. I hope you are having a memorable, happy Christmas season. Please read or listen to Matthew 1 and 2 and Luke 1 and 2 this week. ( I love to listen to the Bible as I get ready for the day or as I shower in the evening, getting ready for bed. It’s a wonderful way to refocus my thoughts on the Lord.)