As a guy, every time I hear the Christmas story, I can’t help but see the event through Joseph’s eyes. The Christmas story is really only told in Matthew and Luke. Each version comes from a completely different perspective. It makes sense when you think about it.
As a guy, every time I hear the Christmas story, I can’t help but see the event through Joseph’s eyes.
The Christmas story is really only told in Matthew and Luke. Each version comes from a completely different perspective. It makes sense when you think about it.
Obviously, neither Luke nor Matthew were there when the events unfolded on that first Christmas night. Each became a disciple when Jesus was about 30 years old. Both accounts were completed at least a couple of decades after the death of Jesus.
So all of the information in the Gospels would have come from stories told during their ministry and travels. Apparently, Luke consorted with Mary’s family, and Matthew was more concerned with Joseph’s family tree and how that lined up with Old Testament prophecy.
Joseph is not a major player in Luke’s Gospel. He is mentioned mainly to explain why Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Luke 2:1-4 says, “In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quinines was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. 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.”
Matthew puts a little more focus on Jesus’ earthly father. The genealogy he lists clearly tracks the lineage of Joseph back to King David, and from David back to Abraham.
He also tells the story a little more from Joseph’s point of view. All men who read the Christmas story wonder how Joseph stayed with a girl who came up pregnant before they had consummated the relationship. Without the involvement of the Holy Spirit, this story could have been on MTV’s “Teen Mom: Bethlehem.”
Matthew makes it clear that Joseph was a nice guy, but he was not going to have Mary make a fool of him. He wasn’t going to publicly disgrace her, but he did want a divorce. He didn’t want a Kardashian divorce. He just wanted to send her on her way discreetly. But then he had a dream that changed his mind.
Matthew 1:20-21 says, “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.’”
Based on the angel’s words, Joseph reconsidered and took Mary home as his wife. That had to be hard. Even if that angel was really convincing, you know Joseph had to wonder sometimes if he was being played.
Then the young couple had to load up and start walking to Bethlehem for the census. My wife is one of the more pleasant people in the world. But if she was pregnant and I told her to load up on a donkey or a camel for a trip of almost 100 miles, I don’t think she would be nominating me for husband of the year.
Depending on how fast they were able to walk each day, it could have taken almost two weeks to make the journey. While they were away, the time came for Jesus to be born. So they did what they had to do. They took care of their new baby in the only shelter they had.
Joseph was still supporting his family when the magi (wise men) came a couple of years later. He and Mary were still parenting the Christ child when he was 12, and they accidentally got away without him and returned to find him teaching in the temple.
And that’s all we know about Joseph. Most church tradition and customs of the time would support the theory that Joseph was older than Mary and quite possibly could have died years before Jesus began his ministry.
Joseph was a man of faith. He believed the angel who appeared to him in a dream took care of Mary and her blessed child. He raised Jesus and taught him well.
Many people see Jesus as some messianic metrosexual with a deep V-neck robe and long flowing hair from a Head & Shoulders commercial.
I doubt that. He was a carpenter’s son. He swung a hammer. He shaped wood with hand tools. When Jesus tossed the tables in the temple and told the money-changers to kick rocks, the Bible doesn’t record anyone stepping up to tell the metrosexual messiah to back off.
I imagine Jesus would have been built like a cage fighter –– lean but chiseled. He spoke with quiet strength. He welcomed children, but anytime someone confronted him, he faced them down without fear.
Joseph didn’t raise a sissy. You couldn’t be a sissy and successfully live the life and face the death Jesus had.
Mary “found favor with God,” but Joseph, “being faithful to the law,” had just as equally important of a part in the Christmas story. I would hope if I were tested in that way, I would be found faithful.
Don’t forget him when you hear the Christmas story and look at the nativity scenes this weekend.