There was a family which like many of our families has a Nativity set, and each Christmas season they would set that Nativity set up beneath the Christmas tree. There was the obvious cast of characters. There was the baby Jesus in the créche. There was Mary. There were assorted animals—donkeys, cows, and chickens—arranged around. There were wise men. You could tell who they were because they were carrying gifts and wore crowns. There were shepherds of various ages and sizes, some of them older, some of them younger. But just as it is with some Nativity sets there were some extra figures and no one knew exactly the identity of those extra figures. This particular family of children played a game every Christmas. Which one is Joseph? Some of them said that it was an old man leaning on his staff. More romantic souls in the family said Mary wouldn't want a crotchety old man like that, so it was a young shepherd with broad shoulders. And they would debate which one is Joseph. In reality Joseph is the forgotten man of Christmas. He is silent. Surprisingly, Joseph doesn't say a word in Scripture. He is like an extra, a kind of minor character that gets a credit in the cast of characters, but no one has ever considered him central or significant to the story of Christmas. He says nothing. He is silent but obedient.
It should not be that way with Joseph, for he is a significant part of this story. It was Emerson who said, "What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say." If that is true, what Joseph did speaks so loudly that it wasn't necessary for him to say anything. He is remarkably simple in his obedience, but he is also simply remarkable in what he was willing to do by hanging everything ...
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Dr. Joel C. Gregory is Director of the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching, holder of the George W. Truett Endowed Chair of Preaching and Evangelism at Baylor's Truett Seminary, and the founder of Joel Gregory Ministries.