Summary: There were two Joseph's who met a need in Jesus' life, one at the first Christmas and one at the first Easter.
A Reflection of Sacrifice
He’s always the forgotten one at Christmas. Oh we remember the Christ child, how could we forget him, even in the shopping malls they sing about the birth of Christ and his name is even included in the very word Christmas. Without Christ there would be no Christmas and so he’s remembered. And his mother, you remember “Round yon Virgin.” After all the virgin birth was pretty spectacular, wasn’t an everyday occurrence. And we are still talking about it. And to give Mary her due it took a lot of faith to trust God for the miracle that he had promised. We even remember the bit players in the drama, we talk about the shepherds and the Wiseman, we cast them in the Christmas pageants and talk about how lucky they were to be a part of the first advent. The innkeeper even gets a speaking role and he’s basically the villain of the piece. Who’s forgotten? Joseph, you know Mary’s husband, the man who would raise Jesus the Son of God as Jesus the Son of Joseph.
We don’t know a whole lot about Joseph; we know that he was a carpenter, that he lived in Nazareth and that his family was originally from Bethlehem. We know that his father’s name was Jacob, that he was a descendant of David. We know that it was Joseph that the Angels came to in a dream to warn about King Herod looking for Jesus, and he took his family to Egypt. We know that when Jesus was 12 years old that Joseph took him to Jerusalem for the Passover feast and we know that Joseph taught Jesus his trade. But then we don’t hear any more from or about Joseph after that. We presume that because at his crucifixion Jesus asked John to care for his mother that Joseph died before Christ was crucified. In Mark 6:3 he is identified as Mary’s son and his brothers are named but there is no mention of Joseph so it’s not that much of a stretch to presume that Joseph died before Christ began his ministry. And we know that Joseph was considered to be the Father of Christ.
You know the story; Joseph was engaged to a young girl from Nazareth named Mary. Historically and culturally we can almost assume that they had been engaged from Childhood, although we don’t know that, and you know what happens when you assume right, yeah sometimes you’re wrong. And so we don’t know how long they had been engaged but we do know that they had entered into the last stage of their engagement, which was known as the Betrothal. Now Betrothal was much more serious than our engagement. It lasted for about a year and was a legally binding contract, which could only be broken by death or by divorce.
I’m sure that the couple was doing all the things that couples do to get ready for weddings. You know the bride is rushing hither thither and yon, and she keeps asking the groom, so what do you think honey, is this right, should we do that, what about flowers, and the reception. And Joseph being the good groom is nodding and smiling and saying “whatever you think dear.” And I don’t know exactly how she broke the news to him, but at some point in all of the wedding arrangements she must have done a “I’m so excited about this, and what with Rachel coming for the wedding, and Martha, and Elizabeth, did I tell you that Elizabeth was pregnant? I did, that is such a neat thing, you know I’m pregnant too, maybe the boys will play together when they grow up, do you think we ought to have fish at the reception as well as the beef?”
And Joseph does a “whoa, what did you say?” and Mary would respond and say “Do you think we ought to have fish at the reception as well as beef, you know in case there are vegetarians there?” “No not that, the other part.”
“Oh, you mean about Rachel coming down, didn’t I tell you?” Seriously I don’t know how Mary did it, how do you tell you fiancé that you’re pregnant and it had nothing to do with him. Maybe she read him the Christmas story out of Luke. However she did it though it must have left him completely stunned, how could she possibly have betrayed him, and then expected him to believe that entire line about her still being a virgin. The father was the Holy Spirit, right, like what turnip wagon did she think he fell off of?
And the conversation must have ended with Joseph feeling betrayed and Mary feeling hurt because he didn’t believe her and he doubted her integrity. But what could he do, he had trusted her, he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, but for her to go and . . . it just wasn’t right. So what was he to do? Well there were a couple of options, he could have her stoned to death, according to the law that was the punishment for Adultery and during the betrothal period it would be considered adultery. The other option of course was to simply break off the engagement, but remember that by this time it could only be done with a formal divorce.