The genuine hero of the Christmas story might not be Mary. It just might be Joseph. Don’t get me wrong. I certainly understand how important Mary is to the story.
How old was Joseph when Jesus was born?
I just read a wonderful little book called, “Faithful” by Adam Hamilton. That book and the other research was very interesting. I hadn’t really thought about Joseph too much but when I picked up the books at a garage sale I knew I was going to read it at this time of year to increase my understanding.
For one thing, Joseph may have been a young man or he might have been much older when he married Mary. The research that supports an older age comes from the Acrophyal books. Also, some famous artwork depicts him at a young age while other artists depict him as almost a grandfather.
He might have been somewhere in between. Many scholars suggest his age as between 28-34, which considering Mary could have been as young as 12, still made him much older. Joseph showed a great deal of compassion that could certainly be the result of maturity but as my husband pointed out, sixteen-year-old Jewish boys may have been very mature back then. They weren’t mollycoddled like most teenagers today.
What was Joseph’s character?
Joseph was exemplary in his handling of the news that his fiancee’ was pregnant. Joseph had two choices. He chose the honorable one. Even though he and Mary were not officially married, Joseph had every right, according to Jewish law, to divorce Mary before the formal ceremony. Had he done so, Mary would have been humiliated. No man would have married her after giving birth to an illegitimate child. No telling what her life might have looked like.
Joseph was truly a hero. He was faithful, loyal, courageous, brave and a man of God.
Joseph did think about divorcing Mary until the angel appeared to him. The angel told him that Mary indeed was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, so Joseph decided to marry her based on what the angel said.
Joseph taught Jesus about carpentry. And as Jesus “grew in stature and wisdom, I assume that means that Joseph shaped his character. Did Joseph realize he was molding the child of God? Wouldn’t you love to know more about the relationship between Joseph and Jesus and how that was impacted by the angel’s message that night?
Why didn’t Joseph and Mary move back to Nazareth after the birth of Jesus?
Why didn’t Joseph and Mary return immediately to Nazareth after the birth of Jesus? I mean they only went to Bethlehem to pay their taxes.
I could find no answer, only assumptions. One was that they simply liked Bethlehem better. There was more opportunity. But I’m going to suggest something else. And it’s because the more I read about Joseph, the more I realized what a truly heroic person he was.
Could it have been that rumors about Mary being pregnant before they got married had leaked out? Could Joseph have been protecting Mary’s reputation? We know that Mary was at least three months into her pregnancy before they were officially married. Her pregnancy might have been obvious by this point. Joseph was a very decent person and might well have wanted to protect her.
Eventually, of course, they move back to Nazareth so scripture could be fulfilled, but that could have been a couple of years later. That might have been time for the gossipmongers back home, to find something else to talk about. As I said, that’s just my theory but I think it seems logical.
And what about those Magi?
The wise men arrived sometime between one to two years later, after Jesus was born. The explanation is given in Matthew 2:16. Mary and Joseph stayed in Bethlehem for two years after Jesus was born and fled to Egypt because Herod had issued an order that all boys below the age of two should be killed.
Somewhere in those two years, the Magi show up to worship the child, Jesus. One year is probably a good estimate for how long it took the wise men time to travel from the east to find Jesus. It is clear that Jesus was in a house, not a manger, by the time the wise men arrived. So Jesus was probably between one and two years of age.
In other words, the Nativity Scene is wrong. Always has been. The only other people that showed up that night were the shepherds.
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi. Matthew 2:16 (NASB)
How does a hero disappear from the scene?
After Jesus was left behind at the temple when he was twelve, Joseph is never mentioned again. Most scholars agree that Joseph died somewhere before Jesus began his public ministry. He wasn’t mentioned at the scene of the first miracle and he surely would have been. His funeral is not recorded anywhere in the gospels and again, surely it would have been. Had he still been alive at the crucifixion of Jesus, Jesus would never have instructed the apostle Mark to take care of Mary after he was gone. So I think it’s safe to assume Jesus died.
There is no way to underestimate the importance of Joseph in the Christmas story. He stands tall, heroic. Joseph has been left out of the story far too long. It is Joseph that continues to be visited by the angels; four times to be exact. it is Joseph that keeps his family safe. Joseph’s influence is clearly seen in the character of a young boy who is able to talk to the temple leaders when he was only twelve.
Did Mary have an influence as well? Of course, she did. But as with cultures of that time, it was the father who would have taken over the education of the children, especially a boy. When Luke 2:52 the bible states, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” Joseph would have played a huge part.
So what does all this mean for us?
I think there is a clear message for all of us.
We can be forgotten. Our story can pale in significance to bigger stories. But our influence on even one life can never be underestimated.
We can all be real heroes.
That smile you smile to that one person today may save their lives.
That one phone call, that one, “How are you really doing?” may make all the difference for a person.
Let the lesson of Joseph speak to your heart. Let his quiet influence encourage you.
No one else can be a “Mary” but all of us can be a “Joseph.” appeared first on faithsighandidy.com.
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