Who Was Joseph?

It is beyond my imagination how Joseph had the strength and character to be the stepfather of the Son of God. He was given a great responsibility far beyond what most men could conceive. I have read in various commentaries that his occupation was a house builder or that he made small things like stools. At any rate, he was a carpenter of sorts. As Jesus was growing up, he taught the same trade to him.

Not only was he to care for Mary and the infant Jesus but he was to protect them as well. When it appeared that the maniac King Herod intended to kill Jesus, Joseph obeyed the instructions of the angel. He took his family to Egypt for safety.

Keep in mind, that Joseph could have bailed out at any time. Society’s norms were on his side. When he found out that Mary was pregnant, he could have walked away as most men would do. Instead, he held to his original commitment for Mary to be his wife. He took her with them to Bethlehem in obedience to the Roman emperor’s demand that all the world should be taxed. He found shelter for her when she gave birth in an animal stall. Some say it was a lean-to and some say it was a cave. Regardless of what the environment was, he made sure that Mary had as much comfort as possible while giving birth. And, by the way, he probably helped Mary to deliver her infant.

Sometime after Jesus was born, Joseph settled the family into a house. It was there the wisemen came to worship Jesus offering gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In no time at all Joseph had to uproot the family including the tools of his trade so they could migrate to Egypt.

As time passed, he became the biological father of six children. Taking into consideration a reasonable time between each child, and after having taught Jesus the trade, Joseph probably lived approximately twelve more years. At some point with some unknown cause, he died. As a result, Jesus became the head of the house. It was his responsibility to bring in the necessary finances for the family. We know this is probably true because at his crucifixion he asked John to take in Mary as his own mother. Is it not curious that he asked John to do this and not one of his siblings?

His siblings did not show themselves trustworthy. There were at various ages. During the ministry of Christ, they thought he was crazy and asked him to come home. It was not until after the resurrection that at least two of his siblings recognized him for who he was. They wrote the two books of the New Testament: James and Jude. During all this time Joseph was absent. He simply seemed to disappear from the pages of history. However, he manned up to a need no other could. He oversaw the long travel with Mary who was pregnant with Jesus, to Bethlehem and later fulfilled his responsibilities without ever uttering a word expecting God to give him some reward.

Joseph willingly followed the path that God laid out for him. He was faithful. He was kind. He was considerate. He was dedicated providing for his family. He was reliable. He was chosen by God to be that special man for all of the requirements necessary fulfilling the early years of Jesus’ life. He never got to hear Jesus preach. He never heard what became of Jesus. He walked his own lonely path as the man needed by God, by Mary, by Jesus.

Joseph sets before all of us a significant example. I venture to say, in many cases the average guy missed the boat from God’s call. (That is not to say guy was not a good man.) It is to say that Joseph stands out above all men for what he was and what he did. Without him Christmas would be quite different. He was the facilitator on earth to make Christmas happen. He is my hero.

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