Mary, the mother of Jesus, is venerated and admired. Joseph, the carpenter and daddy to Jesus? Well, Joseph is forgotten, neglected, and pushed to the side. Our disregard for Joseph, especially when he is the hero in the first two chapters of Matthew (see Bible text below) with their stories of the birth of Jesus and protection of Jesus, anger and grieve me. We live in a time when our world is collapsing because of the vast number of homes without a father actively present — much less a godly father. So, let me share with you what the Holy Spirit did with my heart on this issue on a recent morning and helped me reclaim Joseph the Carpenter as one of my favorite Bible heroes!
On a recent cool morning, I experienced a collision of grace on my back porch while doing my morning Bible readings and watching the birds in my backyard.
I never knew that daddy Eastern Bluebirds were so involved in feeding their juveniles. For the previous week, I had watched these Bluebird daddies ferrying food to their bird boxes hours upon hours for several days. Then, as the juveniles emerged from their bird boxes, the daddies protected them from other birds and coaxed them into flying.
Over the last few days, the Bluebird daddies would fly to the bird feeders and call for the juveniles to join them. They would get them perched and stationary, then the daddy Bluebirds would get food from the feeder and feed their juveniles. After several rounds of this kind of feeding, the Bluebird daddies started showing their juveniles how to get food from the bird feeders. Most recently, the Bluebird daddies have flown to the feeder, called the juveniles over, waited a bit, and then flown away, leaving them to feed themselves.
This process was quite entertaining and delightful. I soon caught myself becoming quite proud of these daddy birds helping their juveniles mature into self-sufficiency. These beautiful birds were also terrific servants to their young. Wow, we need real human dads like them!
That same morning, I read Matthew chapters one and two. While I have always admired Joseph, the man God chose to be the human dad to Jesus, today I was struck by a new realization: The hero of Matthew 1:18-2:23 was Joseph! Not the Magi, although they are superstars. Not Mary, though what she did, as Luke emphasizes in his account, is amazing and breathtaking. But Joseph!
Joseph is memorable without being flashy or attention-seeking. He does all he does to be a servant and protector of "the Child" even though Jesus was not his biological child! In addition, Joseph is a righteous descendant of David who kept the Torah faithfully (Matthew 1:19-20). He was engaged to Mary, yet even though they had not come together sexually, Mary turned up pregnant (Matthew 1:18). However, rather than having Mary stoned as Joseph could under the Law of Moses, and rather than exposing her to public disgrace, Joseph initially chose the kinder solution of putting her away quietly (Matthew 1:19).
Then, after the first of several dream visions from the angel of the LORD, Joseph is told to believe and do the impossible: Mary's "child" was conceived through the work of the Holy Spirit, not the moral failure of Mary or the abuse of another man. So, Joseph takes Mary as his wife while sharing her shame with everyone, knowing he is not the biological father of "the child." Joseph willingly accepts the responsibility of raising "the child" as his own.
Later, as God leads Joseph through other unfolding dream visions, Joseph rearranges and reorients his life around protecting and raising the Son of God. Despite the earthly power behind Herod's megalomaniacal attempts to kill "the child," Joseph steps up and goes to great lengths to protect God's Son and "his child"! Travel, danger, and risky places don't deter Joseph; he leads, protects, guides, and cares for Mary and "the child." He is present in Jesus' life as a daddy, mentor, and spiritual example as a man, carpenter, daddy, and husband through Jesus' formative years.
When I carefully think about what we know of Joseph, he is a strong man of faith with qualities much like God revealed about himself. Joseph was a man of righteous character, gracious compassion, and faithful loving-kindness (Psalm 145:8-9, 14, 17; Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:18).
As men, let's refuse to allow Joseph, the carpenter, to be placed in history's dustbin. On this Father's Day, I can't think of a better example for us to hold up as our hero and model of fatherhood, manhood, and servant leadership. He was God's chosen man to be the human daddy to the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Savior of the world. Without Joseph's faith, compassion, strength, and faithfulness, what would have happened to the baby Messiah under attack from Satan and his human allies determined to end "the child's" life?
I don't know about you, but for me, Joseph is one of my greatest Bible heroes and one who has truly made this a happy Father's Day!
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dreams 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. 21 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."
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6 "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.'"
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 "A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more."
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.