Faith, the Bible tells us, is the substance of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). Eye-opening commitment to truly blind faith is evidenced in two extraordinary men, Joseph and John the Baptist. Both believed Jesus would be the Messiah based on not much more than a promise.
Joseph was the New Testament’s original man-with-a-plan. Get a steady job. Get married. Buy a house. Have kids. Simple, right? That was until the the love of his life showed up after visiting her sister Elizabeth for several months, pregnant with a child they both knew was not - could not - be his. Adios, plans!
Joseph, a kind and righteous man, decided to quietly call the whole thing off without shaming Mary. But then an angel appears to Joseph in a dream with a new plan: take Mary as she is. And with faith stronger than his fear, that’s exactly what Joseph did.
Joseph’s primary desire was to be a part of God’s plan even if it meant upsetting his own plans. With no clear details of what lay ahead, Joseph put his dreams away to faithfully follow the new dream God had just for him.
John the Baptist, Joseph’s nephew, also carried out a mission critical to Jesus’ ministry – and like Joseph, he had to believe in the Messiah he would have to wait a long time to meet.
John was a newborn when his father, Zechariah, prophesied over him that he “will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him.” It would take more than 30 years for him to step into that calling, but he did it with such gusto that Jesus himself said of his cousin, “among those born of women there is no one greater than John”
How sold out to the promise of his role was John? In the desert outside of Judea, wearing a cloak of camel’s hair and eating locusts and wild honey, he proclaimed to all who would hear the need for repentance in order to receive God’s salvation. It was an uncompromising message – and earned him his own disciples. Yet rather than allow the focus to fall on himself, he pointed his followers to “one more powerful than I” who would come, “the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
The faith of Joseph and John the Baptist should be an encouragement to us today. It offers us a model of how, in the absence of anything other than a crystal-clear promise from God, we can muster the humility, character and boldness to be used by Him in mighty ways. As Hebrews 10:23 puts it, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Lord Jesus, thank you for the examples of Joseph and John the Baptist and help me to emulate them by hearing and receiving your promises and acting to pursue them without hesitation. Give me a faith strong enough to believe in the absence of evidence, to persevere when the road gets rocky, to always put your plans and desires ahead of my own. For I long to hear, at the end of my days, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”