Readings for Joseph, Earthly father of Jesus
“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.” (Matthew 1:20-21)
Let us see Joseph through Matthew’s eyes. Matthew is trying to make a connection between Jesus and the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures. He shows that in the linage of Joseph there are repeating names of father and son like names of our ancient parents. “And Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.” (Matthew 1:16) So Jacob, of Genesis, was later called Israel who had a son named Joseph (of the coat of many colors), who was sold into slavery and later became in charge of Egypt’s resources and made homes for Israel to move down to Egypt. So this repeating of the holy names is special.
Matthew speaks of our New Testament Joseph as one who ponders (I like that word). He pondered how he might let go of Mary after seeing that she was already pregnant. “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.” (Matthew 1:20-21) We have no words from Joseph only obedience. He does as he is told. It is important to note here that he is told the child will save us from our sins! That’s a big deal in and of itself, perhaps for another Ponder blog.
When Herod (the so-called Great) was on a baby killing spree, Joseph was told to take the baby and go to Egypt. “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt” (Matthew 2:14). Again, he showed unquestioning obedience for the welfare of his family.
Later, After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 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.” (Matthew 2:19-20) More faithful fatherhood is modeled.
As a father myself, I have some idea of what it means to care for children, whether they are biological or not. Fatherhood is so special. Our human existence depends on the “big brother” approach of men caring for young children. It is not so much about being a disciplinarian but rather an example setter and coach. It is about being supportive of the mother especially when she is the one doing most or all of the leadership. It is not about being the boss, but rather sharing in the tensions and troubles that come to the family from time to time.
There is a non-spoken presence of Joseph in Luke worthy of note. Jesus is lost as far as Mary and Joseph are concerned. However we only hear from his mother, “and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’” (Luke 2:48) Joseph again says nothing and yet, in his silent strength, he is the epitome of fatherhood. I can see him standing in agreement with Mary yet not being overbearing. Come on dads, let’s be like Joseph.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” John Thomas Frazier Sr.