Summary: If Jesus needed an earthly father, we do too.Evey child needs to experience the nearness of a Father, the nature of a Father, and the nurture of a Father.
A Father Named Joseph
How many of you have ever heard a sermon on Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus? Every Christmas we hear of Mary the mother of Jesus and perhaps Mary and Joseph around the stall in Bethlehem. But we tuck them away until next Christmas. We Protestants try not to emphasize Mary too much less we become too Roman Catholic.
But Joseph is the forgotten man of the Bible. Joseph has been depicted as an old man of about 90 years old in order to protect the virginity of Mary. Roman Catholics believe that Mary and Joseph never had any sexual involvement. Protestants hold to the view that Joseph and Mary had other children later on. But some have thought Joseph was a younger man, figuring that an old Joseph could not have withstood the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and the flight into Egypt and the family’s ultimate return to Nazareth. But Protestants have largely ignored Joseph.
There is a website on the Internet called SermonCentral.com which contains over 90,000 sermons from preachers of all denominations. I have a few of my sermons on that website. But of all the over 90,000 sermons only one is on Joseph as found in this 1st Chapter of Matthew. For the Roman Catholics, Joseph is a saint. And the Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus have been called the earthly trinity. But Joseph is a forgotten figure as far as Protestants are concerned.
But on this Fathers Day we want to kind of resurrect Joseph from the forgotten grave of Biblical history. He was an important figure in the life of Jesus. Have you ever thought why Jesus needed an earthly father? Jesus is the second person of the Godhead. He is God himself who has existed from the beginning. He created heaven and earth. He himself said he was one with the heavenly Father. When his parents came looking for him and found him in the temple talking to the priests he said that he must be about his heavenly father’s business.
The fact that God gave Jesus an earthly father tells us something about the importance of fathers. We know Jesus was born of a virgin. There was no sexual contact between Mary and Joseph. The Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary. No physical earthly father was necessary. Jesus could have been the son of a single mother. Many other children are. But God gave Jesus an earthly father. Why? Could it be that a father is necessary in the lives of children? Every child needs a father. If Jesus needed an earthly father, what about us?
Of course we know practically speaking that every child will not have a father, a physical father present. Some fathers die or are incapacitated. But every child needs a father. The world and especially the African American community are suffering from father absence. There is a father hunger that is gripping the world. 70 percent of African American children are born to unmarried mothers. Many times the fathers of these babies have no relationship with them. 80 percent of black children can expect to spend at least a significant part of their lives away from a father. But fathers do matter. If you get nothing else from this sermon than this, remember that fathers do matter.
There is a view widespread around the world that fathers are not essential. My hat goes off to all the single mothers who have successfully raised children without the help of a father. But fathers do matter. Father absence can be dangerous to your child’s health, emotional and otherwise. 63% of suicides are done by people from fatherless homes. 83% of prison inmates come from fatherless homes. 90% of runaways come from fatherless homes. 71% of school dropouts come from fatherless homes. 60% of teen ages mothers come from fatherless homes. Fathers do matter. Compared with children with both parents, children with absent fathers are 5 times as likely to be poor. Have I made my point? Fathers do matter. We hear about children of the world who go to bed hungry each night. But it can be almost equally as difficult for children who suffer from father hunger.
Boys without a father struggle to figure out what it means to be a man. They devise their own code of manhood, often in violent and destructive ways. Girls who were deprived of the love of a father struggle to develop a sense of their own love-worthiness, often offering sex in exchange for what they hope will be love. Fathers do matter. Father absence can be dangerous to the health of your children. If Jesus Christ needed an earthly father what about us? Why did Jesus need an earthly father, and why do we need a father?