Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Joseph was Just


Father, foster-father, saint. 

A skilled carpenter, who would raise his son to be the same. 

A just man who refused to publicly shame his betrothed - a just man who believed on the words of an angel in a dream...

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus." - Matthew 1:18-25

Ancient tradition holds that Joseph was much older than Mary - some ancient texts say he was 90 years old, and Mary was a young teenager at the time of their betrothal, and that Joseph had been married and raised a family already. These ancient traditions have him situated by God to be Mary's husband, specifically because he would be just and patient and understanding and strong in faith. 

The Bible tells us very little about what sort of man Joseph was - the Bible simply says Joseph was a just man.

An angel appeared in a dream again - and once again Joseph obeyed - moving his young family out of Bethlehem and all the way to Egypt!

"And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt..." - Matthew 2:13-14

No hesitation at all - he instantly moved to protect his wife and son! I do not think he even thought of Jesus as a "foster son," but rather as the son of his heart - like any adoptive parent.

And then, upon another angelic visitation, Joseph once again makes a huge move - taking his family out of Egypt and into Galilee.

"But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." - Matthew 2:19-23

As this map from shows, this was no small journey (click on the map for a link to the larger one)! 

Some speculate that the gold from the "Three Wise Men" was used to pay for these journeys, and for the family's time in Egypt. If so, what a lovely example of God's very practical provision!

We know that Joseph beheld wonders at the birth of Jesus, and afterwards - and that he marveled at the things spoken of Jesus. We know that Joseph trained Jesus as a carpenter, and it is believed that Joseph died prior to Jesus' ministry.

There is a lovely song called "Joseph's Song," by Michael Card that imagines what Joseph's feelings were as he held his infant son, Jesus - his son, but not his son - his son, and his Savior. Click thru and have a listen, it is quite lovely!

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