Remembering Joseph

With today being Father’s Day, a day where we all celebrate and honor our fathers, I thought I might post on a father that lived some two thousand years ago. That’s rights, I am speaking of Joseph, the earthly father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Sadly our Lord’s earthly father, Joseph, has often been overlooked by many believers. Joseph is far too often overshadowed by the prominence given to his wife, and Jesus’s mother, Mary. However, when believers do this we deprive ourselves of a very important story. It is true that Mary was chosen by God to both give birth, and be the mother of his only begotten Son, Jesus. This makes her a very important figure in the history of human events indeed. However, God also chose Joseph to be the father of Jesus on this earth, and to raise him to become a man. Therefore, it was both Mary and Joseph who were chosen (or called) by God, together, to be the parents of our Lord. This demonstrates to us that the role of a father, even for the Son of God, is still a very important one. For fathers are not only needed for the physical act of creating children, but are also needed for the spiritual act of raising them. In the case of Jesus, who was conceived in Mary’s womb through the power of the Holy Spirit, a miracle took place, so no man needed to be involved. Nevertheless, a man was still very much needed to fill the role of being a father on this earth in his young life and childhood. Therefore, just as God looked for a godly woman to be Christ’s mother; so too he looked for a godly man to be his father. So Joseph was chosen to be the Lord’s father, and what an inspiring model of fatherhood he would become. Let us briefly look at what the Bible tells us about this man named Joseph, who is described in Matthew as a “righteous man”.

The Scriptures paint us a picture of a deeply caring and affectionate man. This is illustrated first and foremost in his relationship with Mary. For instance, when Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant, he had not yet been visited by the angel Gabriel. Therefore, regardless of whatever Mary may have told him, he naturally would have understood that she had been with another, i.e. adultery. Keep in mind that the penalty for adultery in ancient Judaism was death by stoning. Moreover, in addition to marriage this penalty also applied to infidelity during cases of betrothal. Thus by discovering Mary to be pregnant, Joseph was obliged to divorce her or break off the engagement and expose Mary to public shame, humiliation and/or death. However, as previously indicated, even before God spoke to Joseph, we see he does not react out of vengeance towards her, but rather compassion. His intention was to put her away very quietly, without the involvement of a judge, and it was when Joseph was already considering the best way to do this that the Lord revealed the truth to him:

“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.’” (Matthew 1:20-21)

Therefore we can conclude that Joseph was a kind, caring and loving man toward Mary whom he took as his wife. Moreover, when the child finally arrived, a child he did NOT conceive, Joseph showed no indifference or lack of love towards him. For Joseph adopted Jesus as his own son, and protected him from Herod’s wrath by heading the warning of God’s messenger and taking his family to Egypt until it was safe to return. Think of the courage and faith involved to just pick up your family and move so abruptly. In the following years Joseph would not only raise and care for Jesus, but he would also teach him his trade of carpentry. Time and again we see Joseph displaying a strong courageous faith: when the Lord spoke to him, he listened. He took Mary as his wife, moved his family to Egypt, and followed the ways of the Lord. No doubt his children took notice of these things growing up, and had a Godly man of strong faith and character as a role model and father. This is not to say he was perfect, in fact I am sure he was not, but he did the best he could and Joseph’s story should inspire all of us today.

In conclusion, Joseph was a great man, husband and father who left behind a remarkable legacy. He was the earthly father of the Son of God. Think about that. What an incredible responsibility, and what questions he must have had. “Joseph’s Song” by Michael Card really captures what this moment and undertaking must have felt like. And as if being the earthly father of the Son of God was not incredible enough, Joseph also raised many other remarkable children – for Jesus was not the only child he raised. After Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary had many children together, including James who became leader of the Jerusalem Church, and Jude, whom like James, authored an Epistle which became part of our New Testament scripture. However, it is for answering this awesome call to raise our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that all of us should take pause, remember and honor Joseph.

That concludes today’s post. Thank you for reading. To my dad, and all the other fathers out there: Have a Happy Father’s Day!

JDN

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