Joseph was only a man; yet he had a divine responsibility – to look after and protect the Messiah. Yes, Jesus was born to die but at God’s appointed time; not before, nor at Herod’s invention.
Yes, Joseph had help. He had a dream where he learned that Herod wanted to kill Jesus and so he would have to take Mary and Jesus away to Egypt. But he still had to work out the logistics and the way. He had to be resourceful and resilient.
He had to convince Mary that the move was inevitable for their safety, and he had to arrange transport and food. He also had to decide where to live in Egypt. I guess Joseph was able to use some of the gift of gold for their immediate needs.
Consider how Joseph must have felt. Everything started to go mad after he and Mary got engaged. First she became pregnant – not by him and not within their future goals timeline. Then before the baby was born they had to leave their new home and travel all the way down to Bethlehem. Once they arrived there, they found all the normal accommodation had been secured, and all they were left with was an outside cave hewn out of the rock face. No beds to lie on – just hay and a manger food trough to lay their firstborn. No family celebration, just a cold lonely delivery.
Then, out of the blue, some shepherds arrived, exclaiming that they had seen angels who told them to come and see the new Saviour. After that, things seemed to settle down a bit when, again without warning, Iraqi magi arrived and gave Jesus some incredible gifts, saying Jesus was a king. They had only just gone when Joseph had the dream warning him of Herod’s evil intent.
Once more they were forced back on the road. Not this time to return to their Nazareth home, but onwards as desperate fugitive refugees from their troubled homeland. I’m sure Joseph could have been forgiven for thinking that God had a funny way of welcoming His Son into the world. He may even have felt God had given him a near impossible task – that of protecting the Messiah whilst on earth.
One thing must have become very clear to Joseph – the enemy was out to kill Jesus. Whilst being in Egypt, no doubt Mary and Joseph learned about Herod’s murdering of the children in Israel in his insane pursuit to kill his perceived rival. Satan will use any and all means to destroy us and our families. We see evidence all around us. We dare not put our heads in the sand and hope the reality will go away – it won’t. We have to stand up for our families and protect them at all costs.
Even in the passage we have considered here, the challenges that Joseph faced and the way he chose to face them, persevering at all costs, prove that he was a person of strong character and faith. Someone who had a simple faith in God. If God said it – I believe it – that settles it. I must do what He says and go where He tells me. It’s for our good and for our safety.
Let God challenge you as you read this today. What are the character traits we have seen in Joseph that God wants us to show?