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Joseph: A Man of Courage

 In my last post I wrote about Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph. When we read Matthew 1 and 2, we find a man of incredible personal integrity and character. He was a man who was pure, just, merciful, gracious, and thoughtful. He was a man who listened closely to God through dreams and obeyed what he heard and what God showed him.

Joseph was also a man of courage.

In the first dream from Matthew 1:20 Scripture tells us, “But while he thought about these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.’”

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament gives us a better rendering of the phrase “don’t be afraid.” The book points to a more literal translation that says, “He is told ‘not to become afraid.’”[1]  The angel is clear. He’s telling Joseph not to become afraid as this God-story unfolds when you awake.

We have to look into the Old Testament to get a clear picture of why “not becoming afraid” was so important for Joseph. In Deuteronomy 22 there’s a lot of detail concerning what could happen to Joseph and Mary as a result of this pregnancy—one or both of them, depending on how their community interpreted the passage, could have been stoned to death.

Joseph was a man of courage because when he woke up from this dream he didn’t fear obeying God, even to the point of a terrible death. This man of God chose obedience over pain and suffering. He took a stand for his betrothed and what God called him to do—be her shelter, protector and husband. He is willing to risk his life. He is willing, not matter what it costs, to follow God’s leading.

Joseph shows tremendous obedience and courage as he took his family to Egypt. In Matthew 2:13–15 once again we see Joseph respond without fear to a message from God in a dream. He didn’t take Mary and Jesus to Egypt for sightseeing. He was escaping the Herod-ordered slaughter of innocent children. His courage to obey preserves his precious child.

Joseph’s courage was not a result of reckless abandon. It was the result of loving God, His Word and being obedient to the Lord’s will. He was empowered by the to serve and obey God without fear, in holiness and righteousness.

While Scripture doesn’t say this, I have to think that Joseph’s courage affected Jesus. One important element of Jesus’ ministry and teaching was His repeated counsel, “do not be afraid” (Luke 5:10; Matthew 6:25–34, Matthew 8:23–27). He taught people to be people of courage for God is with them and that courage comes from the power and authority that only God can give (Luke 2:10).

Friends, Joseph should inspire us to be courageous and take risks when God Himself is calling us to give our all for His Kingdom. When we clearly hear from God, we need to be bold, like Joseph, and not become afraid, but become people who respond. We need to recognize the fear, but do whatever He’s called us to do assured that His power and strength will carry us.

What glorious thing might God use us for if we truly didn’t love our own life even to death? What might be conceived in us, carried by us, birthed by us, nurtured by us and ultimately released by us for God’s greater good?

[1]  A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, E-sword edition

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