By Joel A Hess –
You don’t hear much about Joseph. He just disappears after the birth of our Lord. He then reappears when Jesus scares his parents by staying in His real Father’s house, and then he’s gone again. We call him Saint Joseph, but what did he really do?
My friend Pastor Dave Rufner nailed it after listening to our latest Ringside podcast. He wrote me saying, “He had no speaking parts. Hugely faithful, but no recorded words. That’s good news for a whole slew of guys who think that uber Christians have to talk as much as pastor, and they never will.”
Amen to that.
Of course, who knows if Joseph was a jabber mouth and the gospel writers just didn’t include it? But I’m going to go with Pastor Rufner’s assessment. Joseph just got’r done. He led by deeds. He took on his wife, even though the town folk probably thought he was nuts. Not only was she pregnant—she told everyone it was God’s child! He obeyed the government and brought Mary to Bethlehem as ordered by Caesar. He provided a safe place for them during their stay, even if he could not afford a first-class hotel. He protected mom and child when they needed to escape to Egypt. Finally, he taught his boy the honest trade of a carpenter.
Of course, Joseph does not play the hero in this story; God alone does. But still, like Mary, Joseph provides a great role model for dads and husbands. Get’r done. They don’t need to be Mr. raise your hands up in church, swerving your body back and forth to the music. They don’t need to be Mr. long prayer guy who is super emotional, hugging everyone and answering all the questions in Bible class. Men, you don’t need to be in front of the church. Feel free to just hang out in the background; fix the sink in the bathroom, make the manger for the Christmas play, bring your family to church services, and make sure your daughters memorize their catechism and learn to fear the Lord.
Some are called to be the loud martyr, the extraordinary martyr, the going down in flames witness, shouting Jesus before the gunshots. Some are called to be the quiet, more long-term martyrs, witnessing to Christ with deeds, quietly trusting in God’s redemption in Jesus, and serving in quiet ordinary ways in the background. We need more Josephs in our families and our churches. We need more men.
Of course, the greatest event in Joseph’s life occurred as he was considering what he would do with Mary. When he discovered that she was pregnant, he had every right to go nuclear on Facebook, cover her name with shame, and even have her tried by a jury! Instead, Matthew tells us, “Her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” May we all show such mercy to those who hurt us. Yet, the irony consumes us. While Joseph didn’t desire to put Mary to shame, he soon found out that the babe she carried would take all our shame, even Joseph’s, upon himself on the cross! As the angel says, “He will be called Jesus because he will save his people from their sins!” And that He did! Thank you, Jesus.