We don’t know a whole lot about Joseph except that he was of the House of David (a descendant of King David necessary for the fulfillment of prophecy) and he was obedient. When God said get up and go, Joseph got up and went. Three times after the angel confirmed Mary’s story about her divine pregnancy he was directed by God in a dream to go somewhere. After the visit of the magi and their leaving town without returning to King Herod to report on the whereabouts of the child, Joseph was told in a dream to take his young family to Egypt to escape Herod who was seeking to kill Jesus. Then, after Herod died and the whole thing blew over, God told Joseph in another dream to pick up and move back to the land of Israel, and once there, there was one more dream directing him to take his family to Nazareth where Jesus would be raised.
A couple interesting notes about this is that there are prophecies about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, about Him coming out of Egypt and about Him being a Nazarene, which all would seem to contradict each other except for the fact that they are all true. I think this is often true about apparent biblical contradictions: like paradoxes, they are all true at the same time.
If Joseph is anything, he is obedient. No hesitation. No questions asked. It’s an important quality and one that needs to be important to us. God most likely doesn’t appear to us in dreams, nor does he send angels very often, but we do have the word of God that gets pretty specific about what we are supposed to be doing. For example:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33)
Okay so it’s not telling us to pick up and go to Timbuktu, but it is pretty clear about the responsibilities of husbands and wives. Both are to submit to each other (that goes for all relationships). Husbands are to submit by loving their wives, sharing the word of God with them, and nourishing and cherishing them. Wives are to submit to their husbands by respecting them. Husbands love; wives respect; and they each will do this by being unselfish (by giving up themselves). You don’t need a dream or an angel to deliver that message. It’s already been delivered to all of us. We just need to get up and go, like Joseph.
It occurs to me that some of you may have a tendency to pass this off if you are not in a husband/wife relationship, but that’s why it starts out “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” In the broadest sense, we all need to submit to each other and we do that by reverencing Christ through love and respect for each other regardless of gender or role.
I’ve got my assignment; you have yours; now all we have to do is make like Joseph and do it!