God could have picked any human being to fill the role of earthly father for His Son. Imagine the care with which He made that choice. Envision the thoughtfulness we would invest if we were placed in the strange circumstance of having to choose a father for one of our children.
What qualities would be high on your list? Joseph displayed a rare quality that must have been prominent on the list of the Heavenly Father of Jesus Christ.
Think of the challenging situations that Joseph encountered in his role as Jesus’ earthly father. He had his fiancée tell him that she was pregnant despite the fact that they had never had relations. I gather from the account of Scripture that Mary did not give him an explanation, perhaps because the circumstances were just too unbelievable and would sound like a contrived story. Ultimately God revealed the situation to him, but in the interim imagine his anguish.
Then he took Mary as his wife but never had relations with her until Jesus was born. That task would challenge the self-control of any man.
Then on orders from Rome he had to take his almost nine months pregnant wife across about 80 miles of rough, mountainous terrain only to find no room in the inn when she began to go into labor. This was followed by shepherds and wise men and other strange occurrences.
Then there was the warning from God in a dream and the flight to Egypt to escape Herod’s sword, and the return and resettling in Nazareth.
There was also the event when Jesus at 12 years of age, without the knowledge of Mary and Joseph, stayed behind in Jerusalem When He was found He acted surprised that they would not know that He would be about His Father’s business.
We are not sure what happened to Joseph after that since he appears to have disappeared from the scene. Scholars suppose that he died somewhere between the event just mentioned and public ministry of Jesus.
As I think on Joseph going through all of these challenging, emotional, unusual events, I wondered how I would have responded to them. A fascinating quality of Joseph, at least in terms of the scriptural record, is that the Bible never mentions Joseph saying a word. I’m sure he talked—he said things. But based on the scriptural record we get the impression that he did not talk a lot, even in strange and stressful circumstances.
It is instructive that God the Father chose an earthly father for His Son who tended not to be a talker. We don’t find him complaining. We don’t find him opining. We don’t find him asking why. He took the challenging circumstances that came his way in stride and did what needed to be done. He was a doer rather than a talker.
Proverbs 10:19 informs us that, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” Apparently Joseph was a wise man.
My father-in-law, who was a wise man, served on a number of boards. When controversial issues were discussed, those serving with him observed his practice of refraining from saying anything until everyone else had spoken. At that point he would summarize what had been said and then state his position, which invariably was adopted.
Proverbs 11:12 says, “He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, But a man of understanding holds his peace.” Apparently Joseph was a man of understanding.
In James 3:2 we read, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect (complete, mature) man, able also to bridle his whole body.” This verse indicates that the person disciplined in speech is disciplined in every other area of life. We find that Joseph not only possessed this verbal self-control but also, as mentioned earlier, manifested self-control in not having relations with Mary before Jesus was born.
If God chose a man of disciplined speech to function as the earthly father of His Son, that might be a good quality for all of us to work on. Looking back over my life, I am overwhelmed when I think about how much trouble I could have avoided had I replicated the example of Joseph.