Welcome back to our daily Bible study. We have been looking at the birth narrative of Jesus as found in the Gospel of Matthew. Have you ever noticed that Matthew, in his account, said nothing about the manger? Matthew does not even say anything about Bethlehem until the second chapter when the wise men follow the star to Bethlehem. Yesterday, we discovered that Joseph gave Jesus his name. The naming of the child by the father made the son legitimate. This was the father claiming the child as his own.
Today, I want to do something a little different. I will not necessarily go right into the next passage of scripture. I want to think for a bit about Joseph being the father of Jesus. "Oh, preacher! Joseph was not the father of Jesus! God was the father of Jesus!" I know...but...
We often do not give credit where credit is due. Joseph has claimed this child as his own in spite of the fact he knows the child is not his. We often just have Joseph show up at Christmas in plays and in nativity scenes, but we need to realize that Joseph was more important than that. We know that when Herod is wanting to kill the boys under the age of two that it is Joseph who is warned in a dream to leave and go to Egypt. Joseph is portrayed as one who listens to God. He is also very obedient to God. We have already discovered that he is a merciful man. But, is there more? Well, you are probably guessing that there is more or I would not be writing this.
We know that Joseph was a carpenter. In the Gospel of Mark (6:3) Jesus is referred to as the carpenter's son. So, Joseph worked to support his family, including the son that was not his own. Joseph would have also taught Jesus a trade. Now, remember, Jesus does not go to the Jordan River to be baptized until he is about thirty. (Luke tells us this) In other words he did not begin his ministry (no evidence of it) until he was around thirty years old. So, for thirty years he remained in the carpenter's shop performing a trade.
There are a few instances when Jesus refers to God as "Abba, Father." In Mark 14:36 Jesus prayed, "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee..." (KJV) What does Abba mean? No, it is not the '70's Rock/Disco band that gave us the timeless classic "Dancing Queen." I have to admit, however, that I have always been a fan of ABBA and when the movie "Momma Mia" was released I made my wife take me to see it. She was quite embarrassed when I started dancing along with the music. "Abba" is an Aramaic word meaning, not father, but "Daddy." When Jesus cries out "Abba" he is speaking a child's language that speaks of intimacy and trust. I wonder where Jesus learned it? Hmm...is that how he would have referred to Joseph?
O.K., now for one last thing. Joseph taught Jesus a trade, but I will argue that he may have also taught him something else. Now, before you dismiss this thought as being crazy, give some thought to it. I would suggest that Joseph also taught Jesus about...God. What? Jesus was God. How can anyone teach Jesus about himself? Well...we know that Joseph took Jesus to the synagogue. He kept all the traditions. Joseph lived out his faith. I hope we are good at teaching our children about God, even if we don't use words.
Oh, one more thing, one more time. In Luke Jesus is hanging on the cross and is dying. He prays: "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) I know that Jesus was praying for those who were responsible for his betrayal and death. He was most likely praying for the people who had not even recognized who he was. In a sense he was probably praying for all of us at that moment. But, I want to leave you with this thought. Could it have been that he was also thinking at that moment of Joseph? You know, the father who knew that Jesus was not his own son, but took him in anyhow? Is Jesus asking God to take us in anyhow?
Well, tomorrow we will get back to our look at the Gospel of Matthew. have a great day. -Pastor Rick