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Average Joe

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,’ the angel said. ‘Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’

That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death.”

Matthew 2:13-15

Fathers are vital to the healthy development of their children. Even in an era where all traditional wisdom is challenged, the idea that a father could be dispensable is hard to defend. Consider how children in two-parent households are more likely to get As in school, enjoy school, and enroll in extracurricular activities. As teenagers, these children are less likely to abuse drugs, drop out of school, and have children outside of marriage.

As we slowly descend from our holiday high—fueled by a whirlwind of activity and sugar—I want to discuss the unsung hero of the Christmas story… Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. We don’t know a whole lot about Joseph from the Biblical accounts, aside from his profession as a tradesman and a few scattered details.

I find the account above, however, to be extremely intriguing. There were no paternity tests in those days, and Joseph may have still been processing what was happening. After all, he probably was no more than twenty-five years old and likely younger. Even if angels appearing quelled his suspicions, Joe was still a man like every other one. On some level he had to question, “what am I doing here and what is my role?”

Little did Joseph know that the Creator of the Universe hand-picked him—above all of his peers—to safeguard the life and wellbeing of the Son of God. And what a stellar job he did! With very little intel (just a vision he received while asleep), Joseph immediately packed up his young family in the middle of the night and moved them to another country.

Stop for a moment and think about the leadership, energy, and ability to hear and obey the voice of the Lord it took for this man to make such a dramatic move. We know from the account later in this chapter that, had he not acted quickly, the child Jesus most likely would have been ruthlessly murdered when King Herod ordered the slaughter of all boys in his hometown under the age of two years old.

Joseph was selected primarily for his ability to protect—not necessarily his capacity to provide for—the Savior of the world. Even though his role in the early life of Jesus was minimal, it’s importance cannot be overstated.

Are a father who is anxious about how you will provide for your family this coming year? Take a cue from an average Joe and remember to protect your tribe—and the rest will follow.

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