A Voice in the
"But Joseph her husband, being just...." (Mt1:19)
If anything were to be said about any of us, what would it be? Many people strive for recognition, for fame and fortune. But like the 'preacher' says, "Yes, I hated all my labor which I had done under the sun; because I must leave it to the man who shall come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he shall have rule over all my labor in which I have labored, and acted wisely under the sun. This also is vanity." (Ec2:18-19)
Recognition and fame? When Tom Brokaw recently retired from NBC, another commentator quipped that, when a TV personality retires, typically, they are soon forgotten; their names are not uttered by everyone's lips. And indeed, if one considers the current TV anchors and personalities, who even thinks of Brokaw anymore? What we -see- is everybody who -appears- before us daily on TV, and -they- are the ones we think of. Except for Bill Clinton (whom we can't seem to get rid of), and Richard Nixon (whom the media hated sooo much that they keep 'kicking' him even after death), when most presidents fulfill their terms in office, they recede into the national 'woodwork', as the next/current president is in office, in the spotlight.
Certainly, there are some historically famous people who remain in the human consciousness: Adam, Noah, Confucius, Plato, da Vinci, Hitler, FDR, Lincoln, Einstein, Columbus, Nero, etc. But between you-and-me, if we were to die, what percentage of the world would even take note that we had existed? And if they gave a passing thought of us, 'what' would they say?
In Scripture we can probably count on our fingers and toes the primary 'famous' characters: like Moses, Jonah, Daniel, David, etc. While the various genealogies of Genesis, Numbers, Chronicles, Matthew and Luke list hundreds of father/son "begots", and those who served in the O.T. priesthood and monarchy, for the most part, the ones to whom any attention is given are relatively 'few', compared to the b/millions of humanity that live those 4000 years prior to Jesus' birth.
And so, for Joseph to receive mention... this is rather a huge legacy. I mean... once Jesus is born, and has grown to manhood, we no longer hear of Joseph. The fact that Jesus wills Mary into John's care after his death (Jn19:26-27) is a pretty sure indication that Joseph had died by the time Jesus was crucified. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that Joseph was around 20 when Jesus was born, he would have been 53 at the crucifixion, which in an environment where the average life expectancy was around 40-45, he would have been an 'old' man.
Why is Joseph even mentioned? After all, it seems to be "Mary" who gets all the attention.
To all human understanding, Mary has played the harlot. The matter of her being pregnant -before- the marriage was not lost on society. The religious leaders essentially called Jesus a bastard (Jn8:41), in the context of the arguments of Jesus' parentage as Jesus was proclaiming His Deity, having come from the Father. And so Joseph, being "just", knowing the baby wasn't his, considered calling off the wedding. After all, what God-fearing man would want to be married to a "loose" woman! It was just NOT RIGHT! A thing NOT to be done! In fact, according to the Law originally, before the Roman occupation, Mary would have been taken out and stoned to death.
But an "angel of the Lord" appears to him in a dream, telling him something most 'unlikely', according to human understanding. The baby Mary is pregnant with is from the Holy Spirit, and He is to be the Savior. Ya-right!! And a lot of girls in the 50s would also propound the notion that their pregnancy came from a toilet seat...because they supposedly "hadn't been with any boy". Have you not heard of the "birds and the bees"? There is only one way to get pregnant!
WHAT FAITH! What did Joseph do? He -obeyed-. He rose up -immediately-, THAT NIGHT, being "aroused from sleep" and goes to Mary's house and retrieves her as his wife. (Mt1:24) How many men would be able to accept the word of some "angel" in a dream?
The requirement from Joseph: your wife is pregnant, the baby isn't yours...but marry her anyway. And it doesn't stop there. I suspect Joseph was specifically chosen by God to 'protect' that little baby, Jesus. When Herod's wrath kills all those babies, Joseph is instrumental in leading Mary and the baby to safety, based on further dreams.
If you wish to 'protect' somebody, what is the most effective safety net? Secret service brandishing automatic weapons, with attack helecopters hovering over-head, with a column of tanks surrounding the person? When President Bush came to Spokane this past summer, campaigning for office, hundreds/thousands of people lined several 'expected' routes, to get a chance to see him and wave. Most people forgot about that 'back' road that exits the Air Base...which is the route the motorcade took. In many cases, there will be a great show-of-force for people to see, with perhaps a look-alike 'decoy', while the actual person being protected is whisked away in a 'plain' vehicle, that nobody notices. The concept of: the best place to hide is in plain sight.
How does one protect a future king, the Son of God? With Rome's military might? That's what was used to protect Paul. (Ac23)
No... a carpenter.
For any of you who are in the construction trades, please don't be offended at what we will observe here. When society looks at different kinds of people, what are the stereotypical expressions? The "dumb" farmer, the "crude" construction worker, the "rough" logger, the "simple" truck driver, etc. The "wise" people are usually considered to be those in medicine, education, the arts, legal, government, financial, etc. What does a carpenter know about cloak-n-dagger clandestine evasion techniques? He's so 'dumb', all he knows to do is cut wood and pound nails.
Well, as Paul would say later: "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many of nobility. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are mighty; and the low-born of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are," (1Co1:25-28)
How many politicians can be trusted? Lawyers? Educators? Most of them are after personal gain; they've achieved what they view to be a certain level of superiority, and their lust drives them to more. But a person who is of a lower station in life, often being 'content' with the simple things, is also typically one upon whom a person can trust with their life. That is whom God chose to guard the precious, tender, vulnerable "flesh and blood" (Heb2:14, 1Jn4:2) -baby- Jesus.
Joseph may not have been trained for combat at boot camp. But he had the characteristic that God required for the task at hand: he was -JUST-.
If any of us die, and have a tombstone raised over our burial plot, what would be our epitaph?
"He was an honest JUST man" ... ?? What greater praise is there!