“Joseph—Father of Jesus” (A Father’s Day Message) Matthew 1:18-25 -Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was just about to turn off the light when he asked in a trembling voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?" His mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can’t, Dear," she said, "I have to sleep with your daddy." After a long silence he said, "The big sissy."
There are certain sayings we associate with our fathers. Here are some typical Dad quotes:
“Ask your mother.”
”Don’t worry; it’s only blood.”
”Do I look like I’m made of money?”
“I’m not sleeping; I was watching that show.”
”I’m not just talking to hear my voice.” ”A little dirt never hurt anyone; just wipe it off.”
”We’re not lost!”
”No, we’re not there yet.”
”Don’t make me stop this car!”
I looked in my Bible for a quote from another prominent father, Joseph, and to my surprise I couldn’t find one. I never thought about this before, but Joseph doesn’t say a single word in the Gospels. He listens and obeys. We might assume his words are recorded, because we can imagine the conversations he had with Mary, and the Angel Gabriel. He can “hear” him talking to the innkeeper. We can visualize him teaching Jesus about carpentry…but then he fades from the scene. It is widely thought that Joseph was much older than Mary, and when Jesus began His ministry, Mary appears alone, and although the Bible doesn’t say she’s a widow, we can figure that Joseph has since died.
Joseph probably thought his life was pretty well planned. His marriage and his vocation were all arranged neatly for him, but then his world came crashing down. He discovered that his bride-to-be was pregnant. We know that Joseph was a man of integrity—he wanted to do the right thing, in the right way. He considered divorcing Mary when he learned of her pregnancy, but wanted to do so without calling attention to the reason, whereas he could have had her publicly disgraced or even stoned to death for adultery. Instead, he risks being questioned about Mary’s pregnancy and marries her. In those days, a marriage contract was worked out between families, and the engaged couple continued to live with their parents till their wedding. The townspeople could well have thought Mary and Joseph didn’t wait till their wedding. Joseph protected their reputation by moving up the wedding date, and the Roman census took them far away from the town’s questioning eyes.
Although Joseph came from the royal lineage of King David (thanks to the Gospel genealogy), we can easily picture him as a humble man. The brief portrait of him in Scripture suggests he was a quiet, unobtrusive man, available when needed, willing to endure hardship and disappointment. Looking forward to fathering his own child, Joseph was faced with being a step-father to a child not his own. He accepted the humbling circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth. He trusted the providential care of God every step of the way. He didn’t have any parenting books, any training on how to be a father to the Son of God, but he possessed faith and compassion. Bible scholars portray Joseph as an effective provider and protector of the family.