So far from the Christmas story we have observed some important principles. Joseph, the silent teacher, reminds us through his actions that God may call upon us to make sacrificial commitments that can only be fulfilled through His grace and strength. In addition, Joseph underscores the fact that in God’s kingdom we are all part of a broader drama; we are part of something bigger than ourselves. What else does Joseph teach us?
The story continues beginning in verse 22, “Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son” (Matthew 1:22-25, HCSB).
Unlike the wise men, Joseph had no gift in his hands. Unlike the shepherds and the angel, Joseph had no song on his lips. All he had was obedience in his heart. Time and time again the Bible reminds us that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” The thing that makes Joseph’s role in the Christmas story significant is that he obeyed. When God spoke and told him to take Mary as his wife, he obeyed. When God spoke again and told him to take Mary and the baby to Egypt, he obeyed. When God spoke a third time and told him to take the baby back to Nazareth, he obeyed.
Obedience is more valuable than all of the gifts and songs we can offer. To obey is better than sacrifice. Our obedience may involve gifts and songs and acts of service. But those things can not become substitutes for obedience.
So far I’ve pointed to three valuable lessons from Joseph and the Christmas story. I have one more important principle that I’ll post this week. In the meantime, reflect on the life of Joseph as you continue in the Advent season.