Real People/Real Savior: Joseph


Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Thomas D. Kock

New challenges can make us worry, but God will strengthen us to handle anything, just as he did for Joseph.

“It’s all so new!”

I had thoughts like that when I started college so many years ago. I remember thinking it again when we sent each of our kids off to kindergarten and later when we dropped them off to go to prep school or the university. So new.

Perhaps August is a “new” month for you. Millions of students are starting grade school, high school, and college. Millions of parents are experiencing new things along with those new students. There are even some new pastors, teachers, and staff ministers just getting started in their ministries!

Sometimes life’s newness is exciting, like getting married or getting that first job. Other times life’s newness can be worrisome, even daunting, like facing life after a cancer diagnosis or a job layoff. Perhaps we find ourselves wondering, How can I handle this new challenge?


Do you think that Joseph might have wondered that same thing? Let’s put ourselves into his shoes for a moment. Joseph and Mary were engaged. “But before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18).

Can you imagine how the conversation between Joseph and Mary might have gone?

“Joseph, I haven’t been unfaithful. The Holy Spirit caused me to become pregnant in a miraculous way.”

“Really, Mary?! I should believe that?!”

We don’t know exactly how Joseph reacted, but we are told that Joseph planned to end their engagement quietly.

Then God stepped into the picture in an extraordinary way. God brought his word directly to Joseph, saying, “ ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:20-23).

“Wait, what?!? You want me to be the stepfather to . . . God? How do I do that?”

Yeah, that’s exactly what God was asking Joseph to do. So, to whom do you speak to get advice on that? There aren’t many “Support groups for parents of God” out there! Talk about new. This was brand-spankin‘ new!


But what did God do? God strengthened Joseph to do exactly what he had placed in front of him. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him: he married Mary. He raised Jesus. God strengthened him to do it!

And God will strengthen you. He’ll remind you that he’s the Immanuel-God, the God who came to live with us, as one of us, and who remains with us now. He’ll drive fear out of your heart and replace it with confidence that your God is the miracle-worker God. Most important, he’ll remind you that the child born to Mary and raised by Joseph is named Jesus. His name means that your sins are forgiven and that you’re at peace with God.

And like Joseph, you’ll be strengthened to handle any new thing, whatever it might be.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.

This is the first article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.



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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 102, Number 8
Issue: August 2015

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