Bible Characters – Joseph
Bible Characters – Joseph
Joseph listens and takes action – but he does not speak. He passes through the pages of the Gospels without uttering a single word.
Buy the book
100 Stand Alone Bible Studies

Bible passage – Matthew 1:18–25

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “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 fulfil 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”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.


This passage speaks volumes about the sort of man Joseph was. For starters, his initial reaction to Mary’s pregnancy is unusual. Many men in this position would have been loud in their outrage and interested in public vengeance and vindication. Joseph’s reaction is restrained, moderate, firm in purpose, and very kind.

Then he has his dream, and changes his course of action on the strength of it. This indicates both that he wants to believe Mary, whom he clearly loves and respects deeply, and that he is in the habit of listening to God. People who listen to God and act on what they hear become practised at discerning and noticing the Spirit’s voice. People in the habit of ignoring and overriding the whisper of the Spirit, taking refuge in busyness and distraction, find their faith and spiritual discernment growing dull and dim and tired.

Joseph listens and takes action – but he does not speak. He passes through the pages of the Gospels without uttering a single word. We may learn from this the simple lesson that he was a quiet, modest man, but also the greater lesson that silence nurtures the word. As Jesus, the Word of God, was nurtured and protected by Joseph, so in our own lives will silence nourish and shelter our words towards graceful maturity.

The example of Joseph encourages us to see how moderation, kindness, quietness, and restraint save us from the regrets and false starts of impetuosity.



O God who sees and knows us all, you chose Joseph to be the man who would care for Mary and the baby Jesus, protecting them from persecution, and ordering their family life according to the ways of peace. As we, inspired by Joseph’s example, seek to align our own homes with the gentle restraint and self-discipline of your kingdom, grant us strength and perseverance so that Christ may grow to maturity in the innermost sanctuary of our hearts and souls. For we ask it in Jesus’ holy name; Amen.