(Luke 3:23) Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph . . .
We hear so much talk about Mary when it comes to the Christmas story but what about Joseph? He must have been a special man because think of it . . . he was chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus. Though Jesus was God remember He was also human and that human side needed shaping by the loving involvement of a father. As I read the nativity narrative I observe three things that stand out about this man Joseph:
CHARACTER – Joseph was a man of character. What guy would put up with a girlfriend who turned up pregnant and had a wild story about it? But instead of bringing her up to the authorities he chose to put her away privately (Mat 1:18-19). What a guy. Then he leads Mary in her late-stage pregnancy down to Bethlehem (65 miles) without one single complaint (Luke 2:1-7). Whenever you see Joseph he is quietly serving in background. In fact not one word was ever recorded from his lips. He is the picture of an unobtrusive and godly man willing to serve his family and obey God’s call.
SPIRITUAL LEADER – God spoke to Joseph in dreams and he listened to God’s instructions. The Lord told him to take Mary as wife (Mat 1:20) and he did. In another dream God said to take his family and flee to Egypt (Mat 2:13-15) and he obeyed. Then God spoke in a dream to Joseph and told him to go back to the land of Israel (Mat 2:19-21) and he submitted. Then in a forth dream he was warned about going back to Judea and was led to Galilee where they settled in Nazareth (Mat 2:22-23). Joseph was leading on behalf of Jesus and Mary. (That bumps him up a little in status, don’t you think?) Joseph was the spiritual leader of his family. He even led them to worship all the way to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover (Luke 2:41-42).
PROVIDER – Joseph was also the provider for his family. Though a poor man he always trusted the Lord to provide. He finds shelter for the Babe to be born (Luke 2:6-7). He takes the family to Egypt. How would the Lord provide for the trip? Oh yeah, sell the gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Mat 2:11-15). When he settles the family up in Nazareth he takes up the trade of carpenter (Mark 6:3). He has many mouths to feed now as Jesus’ half-brothers are four and his sisters at least two or more (Mat 13:55). He then teaches Jesus a trade (Mark 6:3).
Whatever happened to Joseph? After the incident of losing Jesus in the company of travel when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:41-52) we never see him again. Perhaps he passed away. That meant Jesus had to help His mom raise His siblings. But my personal belief is God took Joseph so that Jesus could look to His heavenly Father, which would prepare Him for His ministry. So, the next time you see a nativity scene don’t forget to take a little time to look at Joseph!