A misunderstood Dad

We know the story of Jesus’ birth. An angel named Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and that her Son would be the Son of God. She was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter, but he didn’t find out about the Son until she was about three months along. There are only a few lines in the gospels which speak of his involvement and after Jesus’ twelfth birthday we never read about him at all. So what happened?

Joseph and Mary were betrothed before the angel told Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of the Most High. Betrothal in those days was a time of preparation for a couple to be married about a year later. There was no intimacy during this period and no seeing each other without supervision, but it was considered a time of matrimony without the ceremony which made them a legal couple.

When Mary heard that her cousin, Elizabeth, was having a child in her old age she had to go and see for herself. She heard this news through the angel which had told her that she would bear a Son by the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth was in her sixth month with her child and Mary went and stayed with her until almost the day the child was born. The Bible says about three months. When she returned to the town where Joseph and her family lived she was three months along in her pregnancy so it couldn’t be hidden at that point.

The scriptures say that Joseph was a righteous man in the sight of God so he knew that something had happened while they were apart, he just didn’t how or by who. Even though the Law required him to have Mary stoned, he couldn’t because he loved her. While he was thinking of quietly ending the betrothal an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him what had happened and that the Son would be given the throne of David one day. Joseph was every bit the man, husband and carpenter that God knew him to be which is why he was given the awesome job and responsibility to raise the Son of God.

Imagine the honor and privilege of being the Dad who was chosen to raise the Son of God? You couldn’t think about it too much because it would overwhelm you. What can you teach Him? Everything about being a man and a child on Earth is what you would have to do. Model the behavior that He would need to have in order to be your Son and God’s Son. How would you do such a thing? Live out the Law in front of Him and teach Him just as you would your own son, that’s how. Granted, you would probably be a little bit more concerned with what you were teaching Him since His Father is God and it would take a lot of soul searching and prayer to get it right, but God chose Joseph because He knew that he could do it.

Jesus learned from Joseph

When the high priest heard Jesus acknowledge that He was the Son of God, he rent his cloak. In the Old Testament, if the high priest did this in his priestly robe (the one which had no seams), it effectively removed him from office according to the Torah.

We have been celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, but consider the time of His crucifixion and when He said, “It is finished”. The veil of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. God’s Presence was in the Holy of Holies so it was God Himself Who tore (rent) the veil of the Temple from top to bottom giving mankind access to Himself from that point on through the substitutionary death of Jesus as the Passover Lamb and the fulfillment of ALL of the feasts which God had instituted from the time of the exodus from Egypt to the giving of the law of God on Mount Sinai. In particular the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Firstfruits.

Jesus fulfilled all of the feasts and their meaning, not just as the Lamb of God but as our Savior and Lord and our High Priest Who went into the Temple in Heaven to put His blood on the altar to atone for ALL of our sins.


The list below comes from a very good book which is speculative, but according to Scripture as much as possible. The name of the book is “The Forgotten Man of Christmas“, check it out if you are interested:

  • Jesus came into a world where the ruthless exercise of power turned the pages of history, but His way was the way of love and peace.
  • He wasn’t an academician, but Jesus challenges us to develop our capacity to love God more, and in His name, thousands of schools and colleges have been funded.
  • Jesus never wrote any of His teachings down and no book bears His name as the author, but His teachings are universally known and quoted and have shaped the course of human history like no other.
  • He was a carpenter by trade and He never built any objects of note, but we choose to honor Him through the beauty of cathedrals, churches, and chapels, all built to His glory.
  • Jesus never held any political power nor any monetary wealth or social prestige, but no one has ever altered the human scene or our understanding like He did.
  • Jesus healed a relatively small handful of people during His ministry, yet the foundation of modern medicine bears His imprint even today.
  • Jesus knew nothing of art, other than the joining of wood and stone in His trade, but His spirit ignites the creative spark in humanity and many galleries are graced with expressions of Who He was and Who He is.
  • There is only one of His sermons which is complete in the gospels, yet the words of that sermon are the cornerstone for our human reality and the Magna Carta of our human spirit.
  • Jesus never owned anything of value to the world, yet when He was on the cross soldiers gambled for the only article in His estate, the seamless robe He wore; and in every place where His teachings are embraced, the standard of living is lifted, and where His name is claimed, no one can sit idly by while people go hungry or the lonely are in need of a friend.
  • Jesus spoke more of service than of rights and privileges, but where His message is heard and heeded, the value of each individual is exalted and the rights of all are protected, especially those who are weak, worn, forgotten or unborn.
  • Jesus lived only 33 years before His Earthly life ended, but He changed everything, even the way we date history. Surely we can agree with Paul that “His name is above every name.”

Many of these traits He learned from the example of His Earthly father during the years before He was found in the Temple at the age of 12. During the years leading up to His Earthly father’s death, Jesus kept learning the lessons that Joseph taught Him and I believe that Joseph modeled God for his Son as much as anyone could have. Many of the attributes of God are what we are supposed to model for our own children and anyone else who might see Jesus reflected in our lives.

Being like Jesus was in this life is our goal as Christians but He learned much of how to live and be like His Father, God, by learning it from His Earthly father…Joseph. A Jewish Boy could learn from no better teacher than the man who raised Him and that is exactly where Jesus learned how He treated the people around Him, men and women alike.

God wants a relationship with each one of us and it doesn’t matter where you live or if you have any money or not, He just wants a real, personal relationship with you. In God’s eyes and in His heart He sees each of us as unique individuals, which we are, but God sees and knows so much more about you. He can see your ambition and your guilt. He knows your weaknesses and your strengths and He cares about you.

Many of us go here and there trying to gather more goods or to be more productive, yet what good are we doing by accomplishing this? If you aren’t doing these things for God and His Kingdom then the benefit is for who exactly? God doesn’t need your money or your things, He wants you and your talents because He gave them to you to do His will in this life. Collecting things in this world has nothing to do with your service in God’s Kingdom because not one of those “things” will be with you when you stand before God.

So, why did God choose Joseph to be the Earthly father of Jesus? First is the fact that he was a descendant of David and of the tribe of Judah so this would fulfill prophecy regarding the Messiah. That is the fulfillment reason why Joseph was the one who raised Jesus. So what other reason would cause God to allow His Son to be raised by this man? The Bible says that he was a just man and honorable but you can also see kindness in his dealings with Mary as well. Jesus learned all of these human qualities from Joseph even though the Bible seems to write him off as the husband of Mary and a descendant of David.

God knew Joseph’s heart because he was a devout man and a carpenter. Why is that important? Because he could show Jesus the importance of building relationships and how to treat others. We, in the West, tend to look at Jesus as the Son of God which He is but He is so much more than that. He was a carpenter and the Messiah. He was a teacher and a healer. He was a rabbi and a student of Life. He was the Son of God and the son of Mary and Joseph, fully God and also human and it was His humanity which He learned from Joseph.

Did Jesus know all things as God in human form? Yes, He did, but He had to learn humanity and all of its problems and frailties from His human parents and that is what made Him the Person Who loves children and those who are hurting from sickness and grief and suffering in ways which we can’t imagine. It was Jesus’ humanity which He learned from His Dad while He was living with Him. We don’t know what happened to Joseph because the last time we hear about him was when Jesus stayed at the Temple while His parents left and headed back home. Jesus was about 12 years of age then. but during those years Jesus learned many things from Joseph and He may have had Joseph for a few more years but we just don’t have a record of it.

My point is this: Jesus learned about humanity from Joseph and his work as a carpenter and all of the people that his father in the Jewish community. He taught us how to be His disciples through His ministry and parables and His healing of those that He came in contact with that we have in the gospels. So go into the world around you and be more like Jesus and His human father, Joseph, because I believe that we see and learn more about being a follower of Jesus from Joseph because we can see the way that Jesus acted during His ministry. He would’ve learned from His Father all about being God in human form but He learned everything about being one of us from the man God chose to raise His Son.