Read: Matthew 1:18-25 (www.biblestudytools.com/nrs/matthew/1.html)
Sing: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, UMH 211
Less than a hundred yards south of the Church of the Annunciation is the Church of Saint Joseph. This chapel was built over the site of an ancient system of caves, one of which might have been used by the Holy Family (Joseph, Mary, and their children). Whether Joseph and Mary used this cave as living space for their family or as a workshop for Joseph we do know that this whole system of caverns were used in the first century AD. We also know from Matthew’s Gospel that the Holy Family came to Nazareth when they returned to Israel from Egypt.
In addition to living or work space, these caves also have special places carved into their soft limestone where water could be stored (a cistern) and where grain could be stored (a silo). There is another specially carved space here, a 2-meter square basin with a black-and-white mosaic floor. This is most likely a Christian baptism pool which some scholars believe may have been built as early as the late 1st century.
This site is very inspiring when you think about what a good father Joseph must have been. Joseph raised a son who, when he wanted to describe a loving God to the people he was teaching, called God “Abba – Daddy!” What made Joseph so special?
There are three short stories in the first two chapters of Matthew that tell us a lot about Joseph: 1) the story you read in Matthew 1:18-25; 2) the story of the escape to Egypt, Matthew 2:13-15; and 3) the story of the return from Egypt, Matthew 2:19-22. In each of these stories there is a repeating pattern: an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and gives him instructions; and, when Joseph wakes up he does what he was told to do.
So, Joseph knew how to listen to God.
And, Joseph knew how to obey God.
Joseph was most likely still in his twenties when these three stories happened. I’m almost 60 and I don’t think I can go three-for-three. How about you?
The best book I know about listening to God is Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God by Dallas Willard. It is the first book of a trilogy that I highly recommend. The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives is the second book. And, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God is the third book. If you want more help with obedience try Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, also by Dallas Willard.
Hear and do. Hear and do.