When Joseph Woke Up

Posted on December 20, 2011 by

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“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him

and took Mary home as his wife.”

Matthew 1: 24.

Imagine it from Joseph’s perspective.  You had picked Mary and she had said yes.  You didn’t have much, but the promise of a faithful wife and the hope of children meant security and the possibility for more.  Then one day your fiancé approaches you, tells you that she’s pregnant, and that the baby is God’s.  Moreover, the child will be the “God with us”; the long-awaited Savior.  Questions abound.  Is she lying?  Is she crazy?  Is she trying to get out of the marriage?  You can have her killed… should you do it?  How do you tell your friends and family that the wedding is off because Mary says God got her pregnant?

Joseph was at a moment in his life when everything was spinning out of control, in an instant everything seemed lost.  The hopes and dreams that Joseph had were dashed, and as Mary walked down the road to visit Elizabeth, Joseph’s future walked out the door as well.

Then, Joseph has a deep sleep.  A different sleep.  A sleep where an angel appeared and shared wondrous news.  Mary wasn’t lying and she isn’t crazy.  “Don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife… you are to give him the name Jesus…” (Matthew 1: 20-21).  Incredible news!  Amazing confirmation!  A new plan for his life!

But, at this critical moment, I need to point out a delima.  Joseph saw the angel in a DREAM.  Mary had Gabriel in her conscious presence.  Zechariah saw him in the Temple.  The shepherds saw the choir in the sky.  But Joseph only had a dream. He in fact has a two-fold dilemma – he has to believe the angel’s words, and he has to believe his dreams as well.

In the Christmas narrative we hear great music.  There are great songs from Mary, Zechariah, and the angels.  The Magi speak, and so do the shepherds.  Elizabeth, Gabriel, and even Herod have lines.  But Joseph doesn’t get a single line.  In fact, we don’t hear one word from him in the whole Bible.  Joseph, however, should still be studied by us, not because of any words, but because of his example of faithful trust and response to God’s call.  He believed in his dreams and he was a man of action.  Not much later, Joseph would receive another dream – a message to take his young family to Egypt.  Both dreams were crazy.  Imagine receiving such visions:  your fiancé is pregnant with God’s child who is the Savior, and you must move tonight to the foreign land of your enemies.  Neither message made sense.  But in both instances, Joseph’s response saved Jesus’ life, and, for the briefest of moments, our own futures rested in Joseph’s character.

In today’s world, words are cheap;  expressing oneself through 250 character messages has reduced our narratives to meaningless drivel.  Joseph’s character runs counter to a culture obsessed with verbal vomiting.  His example ought to challenge us.  God spoke through a dream, and Joseph woke up and took action.

This season reflect on what dream God has given you?  What has He put on your heart?  Can you trust and believe the message He has for you?  Is your vision wrapped up in what you want, or is your vision tied to the miraculous?  What are God’s dreams for you, your family, and for those you are called to bless?

Don’t forget though that Joseph was no mere dreamer, he was a man of action.  Reflect over this past year. Did you leave a trail of words and intentions, or is there a pathway of actions leading you closer to God’s best in your life?  Will this Christmas season and new year be filled with empty words and regret, or will you like Joseph wake up and simply do what the Lord has commanded you.

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