Jesus Had An Earthly Father Too
[This post is # 8 in the series on Heritage. During the month of June, I am celebrating Godly fathers. Jesus was blessed by his earthly father. I was blessed by mine. I recognize, however, that all children do not have this blessing because all fathers do not love or nurture their children well. For those who have been injured by a father or father-figure, know that it is not your fault and that it breaks God’s heart as it has broken yours.]
Confession: I am always behind, rushing to catch up with what I didn’t complete yesterday, or last month, or even last year. It is a small wonder that these blogs are written ahead of time and posted in advance of the Tuesday deadlines! Unfortunately for my family, I don’t always finish promised gifts either. Two from Christmas 2020 remain pending even now (a rag quilt for Morton and two quilted pillows for James).
This post began as a letter to my father for Christmas 2008 because his gift wasn’t ready. I have no clue what the gift was supposed to be, but this was a letter of appreciation to him as my dad. These words were my temporary gift in place of a box with colored paper and bows. Here is what I wrote to him:
Recently, as I read the Gospel of Matthew and waded through the ancestry of Christ, I began to think seriously of our family heritage and what it means to me. First, I was thankful that we can at least pronounce all our names! Second, I thought about Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph.
Who was Joseph and what place did he have in the life of Christ? We don’t know much of anything about him, only what is contained in a few scattered verses of the apostles’ writings. Basically, we only see him at Jesus’ birth and at the Jerusalem Temple when Jesus is aged twelve. Most Bible stories focus on Jesus’ Mom, as if Joseph was an unimportant part of the equation, an unimportant part of Jesus’ life. Was he?
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction…
Proverbs 1:8 ESV
Read between the lines with me for a minute. Consider what Joseph might have meant to Jesus as a father. Here is what I imagine:
An angel sent from God speaks on behalf of God to Joseph in a dream. Thankfully, Joseph listens; he is not too wrapped up in himself, his carpentry business or wedding plans to pay attention. Joseph must know God well enough to recognize His voice and understand God’s directions even tho the words are repeated through an angel.
Scripture proves that Joseph believes God. In fact, he must have had a mighty faith and confidence in God. He also must have had a tremendous God-given strength of character because he goes through with God’s far-fetched, risk-full, impossible plan. He obeys. He marries Mary in spite of the risks. What faith!
Joseph takes the risk of believing God even though it must be a blow to his ego and it will certainly risk embarrassment and ridicule. It certainly means facing an unknown future with the terrific responsibility of being the earthly father for the eternal, almighty Son of God.
Joseph willingly becomes the family’s earthly protector. In fact, without him, Mary, herself a child in our way of thinking, would have been disgraced, ostracized from her family and society, or even killed for being pregnant before marriage. Joseph was also the family’s daily provider and masculine role model. (Remember, it was a patriarchal society where the father took the lead in all things.)
Just consider what Joseph would have done for and taught Jesus as he grew from a crying, diaper-wetting newborn to an exceptional young man. He surely taught Jesus how to appreciate nature and understand the land. He would have taught Him how to read, to understand Hebrew Scriptures and Laws, and how to be strong in His faith. I bet in that carpenter’s shop Joseph taught Jesus how to use his hands to create and how to make a living to support the family. He certainly taught Jesus how to honor and treat women.
Even though Joseph disappears from the historical record early, Joseph was at least a pivotal part of the family until Jesus was twelve; and any teacher will tell you that by that time a child’s basic character is already set.
Jesus was born as a helpless, dependent baby. He required much care and teaching in the ways of living. Yes, He was the Son of God. Yet He was fully human while walking this planet. How very much He must have learned from Joseph about life. If God took so much care in choosing the Mother of His Son, doesn’t it follow that He would have taken just as much care in choosing His earthly father too?
Oh, that our faith and obedience could be a strong as Joseph’s!
Dear Lord, thank you for providing us the ancestry of Christ, even when we cannot pronounce their names. Each person in the chain had a terrific responsibility to teach their children Your ways, Your Word. Each followed through and, in the process, influenced the future. Lord, this is my heritage too. I pray I will be just as effective in passing Your message and Your love on down to the generations that come after me. May I too have the blessing of leaving a heritage for You. Love and Amen.
A CHALLENGE TO PRAYERFULLY CONSIDER
What have you inherited that is most valuable to you?
What legacy are you building now by the way you are living your days?
Who are you mentoring by default?