Real heroes are people who do the right thing simply because it needs to be done, they seldom plan it out or look for fame. Real heroes seldom have time to think about their call to action.
The Gospel of Matthew has the record of an unassuming hero. Someone who avoids the limelight and plays a crucial part in the early life of Jesus. Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus.
So, who was Joseph?
Not much is told about Joseph and none of his words are recorded in the Bible. He was of the tribe of Judah and the royal line of David. All we know is that this man was given the awesome responsibility to raise and train up the son of God. He is the forgotten man, the unassuming hero of the greatest story ever told.
Joseph probably had a plan for his life with Mary. A life of hard work and keeping a good name in the community. We read in verse 19 that Joseph was a righteous man, a just man, and a man of honor.
But then his planned life began to unravel. Mary was found to be pregnant, and Joseph’s world was in disarray. He had every right to divorce her during their betrothal, and it would have been easy.
However, God had other plans for Joseph and Mary. Joseph has a dream. In fact he has four dreams and these dreams steer the course of History.
The first dream is found in Matthew 1:20, “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
The Angel told Joseph not to be afraid, why would he be afraid? It was the fear of shame, ridicule, and the opinions of others.
It is no coincidence that when God gives you an assignment, other people will criticize or ridicule you for being irresponsible, crazy, or worse. You cannot serve the Lord and satisfy the opinions of those who are close to you.
Joseph was told something unbelievable; Mary’s baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Nothing like that had ever happened before, nor happened since. Joseph was a hero, a man who did the right thing and obeyed the angel in the dream.
The second dream is found in Matthew 2:13, “Now when they (the wise men) had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt and stay there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to kill Him.”
Joseph didn’t hesitate, he took his family and left that night for Egypt. His response and obedience were immediate. How often do we obey immediately? We tend to wait for confirmation and maybe another word from the Lord before we obey. But not Joseph.
Then Joseph has a third dream, Matthew 2:19-20, “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.”
Another dream, another directive to travel and the response from Joseph is the same. He takes Mary and Jesus and heads to Israel immediately.
Imagine the challenges of travelling in the first century from Egypt to Israel; walking, perhaps with a donkey to carry belongings including his tools for his trade. What is their final destination? Joseph doesn’t know, yet he still obeys.
Frequently, God only gives us the next step; where to go, what course to study, to start a business or resign from our job. Whatever the instruction is, God seldom gives us the long-term plan, He simply says go…
The unassuming hero is a person who trusts God for the next steps. Joseph was a man of faith.
What first step is God asking you to take?
As they head for Israel, Joseph discovers that is might not be safe for Jesus, and then he has his fourth dream.
Matthew 2:22-23, “Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and settled in a city called Nazareth. This happened so that what was spoken through the prophets would be fulfilled: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
This fourth dream leads Joseph to take his family to Nazareth. It was a small and disliked town in Galilee. The label, “Nazarene” was actually a term of derision. Nazareth was part of God’s plan all along.
Joseph was the unassuming hero, fulfilling the plan of God. This is the last time in the Gospel of Matthew that we read about Joseph.
It would be safe to say that Joseph had one of the greatest responsibilities and honors in the whole Bible. Yet he never stood on stage, never gave a powerful speech, never wrote a book, and it is safe to assume that he never made a lot of money. Yet God found in Joseph, someone who was willing to be obedient and became a man of highest honor. The adoptive father of the Messiah.
Has God given you an assignment? If you are a follower of Jesus, then you have an assignment. It might not be flashy, but if you are obedient and faithful, you too are an unassuming hero.
God is always looking for unassuming heroes (see 2 Chronicles 16:9a).
Are you completely His? Do you trust the Lord even when it seems crazy, and people will ridicule you or talk behind your back? Even when it seems contrary to what natural wisdom seems to say.
God is working out his master plan, are you willing to trust him?