It’s a curious thing–God coming to earth in the vulnerable form of an infant. His royal inauguration wasn’t filled with coronation balls or elegant dinners. No trumpets sounded alerting the masses to the arrival of their Sovereign. Instead, He came as a squirming, wet, sticky babe, wriggling free from the amniotic sac and into the waiting hands of Joseph—serving as midwife to God.
What weight lay on the shoulders of this Jewish carpenter from Nazareth—to serve as the Holy Child’s guardian, to care for the sacrificial Lamb. Parenting the Almighty—not a job for which many would volunteer! Scripture provides telling clues as to why Joseph was chosen for this critical assignment.
Joseph is described as a righteous, just, merciful, and obedient descendant of nobility (Matt. 1:18–25). As a righteous man who feared God and lived according to the Mosaic Law, he knew the penalty for adultery would be stoning (Deut. 22:22–24). But in his justice, he reflected the Father’s heart of mercy: “And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly” (Matt. 1:19).
We aren’t provided the details of how Joseph realized Mary was with child, but apparently he was under the impression that it was because of immorality. We see no hint of jealousy, anger, or rage. He planned to send her away, probably to obtain a legal divorce. According to Jewish custom this was necessary in order to dissolve their betrothal.
Just as Joseph’s namesake reacted in grace when placed in a difficult position (Gen. 50:18-21), this Joseph also demonstrated the heart of the Heavenly Father in treating Mary with tenderness even when he had legal rights to publicly shame her. When God intervened by sending word to Joseph, he immediately obeyed:
“And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’” (Matt. 1:19–21).
Included in the angel’s message was the instruction to call the child Jesus–literally “Savior.” From that moment, Joseph was aware that he was entrusted with a glorious treasure. We, too, have been entrusted with this glorious treasure, the hope of all mankind:
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves . . . always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Cor. 4:6-7).
How are you displaying the treasure you’ve been entrusted with? Is Jesus being seen in you?