Tuesday, December 16, 2008

But What About Joseph?

The other day as I was driving down the road, the radio was playing Christmas songs. The song Mary Did You Know? was wafting through the air. I absolutely love that song and as I was singing along the thought ran across my mind, “But what about Joseph?” At Christmas time we hear a lot about Mary and the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus and her dedication as his mother. But I don’t remember ever hearing a sermon or song about Joseph and his part in the story. That got me to thinking, "Yeah, what about Joseph?"

I am definitely a Daddy’s girl. I think most girls are. I remember I couldn't wait for daddy to come home from work. I would climb on the cabinet and as soon as he came through the door would jump and shout, “Daddy catch me!” It never even dawned on me he might not catch me and I could fall and get hurt. He was just daddy and I trusted him. If I decided not to surprise him with a jump, I would hide and shout, “Daddy find me!” I remember him pretending not to know where I was and looking and calling my name, but he always “found” me. More importantly Daddy instilled morals and values to all of us girls. We were very involved in our local church. Daddy and mom were always Sunday school teachers, and mom played the piano and daddy led the song service. We would go to Prayer Meeting, Bible Study, visitation and every other time the church doors were open. I also remember Daddy praying and studying his Bible daily. He also taught me the value of working hard. It didn’t matter if it was for a paycheck, grades on my report card, or chores. You better do your best and nothing less would do! Those values are still with me today.

Now let’s get back to Joseph. We’ve established that daddies are important in our moral fiber and upbringing, so what can we find out in scripture about Joseph, abba to Jesus. The first reference I want to look at is in Matt 1:19 “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (NIV) The key word I want to focus on is “righteous.” What does it mean to be righteous? In Nelson’s Bible Dictionary we find “Righteousness is Holy and upright living, in accordance with God's standard. The word righteousness comes from a root word that means "straightness." It refers to a state that conforms to an authoritative standard. Righteousness is a moral concept.” After finding out Mary was pregnant, before they were married, Joseph was upset and rightfully so. I’m sure he was confused and had many questions, but being a compassionate man and not wanting to cause trouble for Mary, the woman he loved, he wanted to handle the matter quietly and discretely. God intervened and told Joseph through a dream he was to take Mary as his wife, name the baby Jesus, and rear him as his own son. How many men today would be obedient to God and follow his command? Talk to your local Crisis Pregnancy Center if you want to know how most men react to an unplanned pregnancy. Thankfully Joseph was not a regular guy but was righteous and obedient.

Another characteristic we notice about Joseph is his obedience to man’s law. A census was decreed where people were required to register in his hometown. We read "So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child." Luke 2:4-5 (NIV) The journey is about eighty miles, over rough, uneven rugged terrain. Can you imagine even driving this route today? Even though his wife was nine months pregnant and they would have to travel by foot and donkey, Joseph did what was required and made the journey. He was a man of honor.

Our next reference to look at is Luke 2:22-24 "When the time came for Mary's purification offering at the Temple, as required by the laws of Moses after the birth of a child, his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord; for in these laws God had said, "If a woman's first child is a boy, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.” At that time Jesus' parents also offered their sacrifice for purification-"either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" was the legal requirement." (TLB) The Mosaic Law required the baby to be circumcised and named after eight days. Then after forty days a purification and dedication offering were to be given at the tabernacle. Again, Joseph was obedient.

Are you getting a picture of Joseph? He was a man of honor, righteousness and obedience. What great things to be able to say about a man! Oh what an honor it would be to have those things said about each of us. But there’s more. In Luke 2:41-48 "When Jesus was twelve years old he accompanied his parents to Jerusalem for the annual Passover Festival, which they attended each year. After the celebration was over they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn't miss him the first day, for they assumed he was with friends among the other travelers. But when he didn't show up that evening, they started to look for him among their relatives and friends; and when they couldn't find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him. He was in the Temple, sitting among the teachers of Law, discussing deep questions with them and amazing everyone with his understanding and answers. His parents didn't know what to think. "Son!" his mother said to him. "Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere." (TLB) We learn in this passage several things; first that Joseph was fulfilling more of the requirements of the Law concerning his son Jesus. At the age of twelve every Jewish boy was called 'a son of the law;’ to be trained and instructed in the laws of The Torah. To be instructed in attendance on public worship and set to learn a trade. About this age they are presented for confirmation, where this rite is practiced. Some people wonder how Mary and Joseph could have missed the fact that Jesus was not with them. They were not the only ones traveling. It was common for families, neighbors, and relatives to travel together to the Passover Feast and celebration, so it is easy to see why they thought Jesus was with the group. When they stopped for the first nights rest that is when they discovered Jesus missing. The Hebrew word used here is odunao pronounced
od-oo-nah'-o which means to grieve, sorrow, torment. Don’t you know Joseph’s thoughts were running wild, “How could I have lost Jesus? I’ve been entrusted with his care and instruction and now he’s gone!” There was one time I was in the mall with my sister and her niece hid in the corner and frantic doesn’t come close to describing the feeling I had when we noticed her missing. We found her in a minute or two but I couldn’t stop shaking for a long time. I can’t imagine the distraught feelings Joseph and Mary must have had. The text says they found him three days later. I’m sure those were exhausting days and nights both mentally and physically, searching for their son.

The last characteristic of Joseph I want to examine is his teaching Jesus a trade. The Bible tells us Joseph was a carpenter and we can assume he began teaching Jesus in the tools of his trade about the age of twelve. I have always had a deep respect for those that have the talent to take a raw piece of wood and create something beautiful. I have attempted a few times to build something but was never very successful. All it takes is a slight miss measurement and disaster occurs. Carpentry was a rough, tough job that demanded a great deal of physical strength and as well as skill. There were two aspects to the carpenter's work: firstly building and secondly the making of smaller objects that included furniture. And remember they didn’t have the tools that we have today, Joseph and Jesus would have probably used an axe, chisel, hand drill, handsaw, mallet and saw.

In review of our study of Joseph, abba, daddy, earthly father to Jesus, we find that he was a man of honor, righteous, obedient, faithful, compassionate, kind, and involved in the training and instruction of his son. This is a great list of characteristics for daddies today to strive to achieve. So as we continue to celebrate this Christmas Season, give thanks for your own dad and the life lessons he has taught you, as well as a thanks for the dad to our Savior, Joseph a righteous man.


De said...

I just heard this song last week.

Jump5 - Strange Way to Save the World
From the album All the Joy in the World

Sure he must have been surprised
At where this road had taken him
'Cause never in a million lives
Would he had dreamed of Bethlehem
And standing at the manger
He saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel come to life
And Joseph said...


Why me, I'm just a simple man of trade
Why Him, with all the rulers in the world
Why here inside a stable filled with hay
Why her, she's just an ordinary girl
Now I'm not one to second guess what angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world

To think of how it could have been
If Jesus had come as He deserved
There would have been no Bethlehem
No lowly shepherds at His birth
But Joseph knew the reason
The love had to reach so far
And as he held the Savior in his arms
He must have thought...


Thare said...

One Word...
Just tonight as we were watching the movie about the birth of Jesus I thought about Joseph and wondered what it was like for him!Thanks for the great feeding! It came at a perfect time!