Fatherhood is an institution that has taken a beating over the past few decades. From ancient times there have been negative dynamics between men and their sons. Ancient Spartans would torture their sons to make them strong. Ancient Egyptian fathers rarely showed affection to their children. Many ancient Japanese boys did not see the face of their father until their fourth or fifth birthday. Today there remain some of those dynamics, but it seems that the new negative relationship of choice for dad’s is the absentee father. This is when a dad simply leaves the woman that he has had a kid with and goes back out into the world to live a life separated from his children. This is a catastrophe. The problem is that father’s that abandon their children are likely to end with little income. Their children are likely to fall into rebellious sins. Many sons of absentee fathers are themselves absentee fathers. A lot is made of these dads that have left their home, but if we were honest with ourselves we would say that our cultural image of a father is not a good one. Watching popular television one can see that dad’s are generally absorbed by work. They get into some nasty situations and are saved by their wives. They usually don’t care about their children, unless they need them to do something for them. This is not a good example for young dads.
A good biblical example of a dad is Joseph. Joseph was a simple man. The bible says that Joseph was a carpenter, so he was a hard and capable worker. He was engaged to Mary, which meant that he was old enough to pay the wedding fees. While Mary was probably younger than sixteen, Joseph was probably older than 25. He was from Nazareth, and had probably had his eye on Mary for a long time. While this may seem odd to people from our day, in Jesus’ time a man had to be established to get married. Joseph had been working a long time to get engaged, and now he was.
It is a good thing for men to work hard and find a good girl to marry. Many absentee fathers were never married to the women that they had kids with. If you are a guy out there today who is trying to lead a holy and fruitful life, be objective when it comes to women. Don’t go running after the first dime piece (pretty) who has billions of dimes (is rich). Does she love God like Mary did? From what I have been told and from what I have seen a relationship with God covers a lot of holes in a marriage that develop as part of our natural sin nature. If she does not love Jesus it can be a disaster that may lead you to leave your home.
From watching engaged man I have observed that engagement is a time of excitement and anxiety. I can image that Joseph was looking forward to starting his life with Mary. I can imagine that as the days grew closer to the day they would wed it would be harder for Joseph to concentrate on his carpentry. I bet the older carpenters made a few jokes about the smile on his face and the spring in his step. Of course then God came onto the picture and everything changed. Mary comes back from an extended stay at far away relatives and she is pregnant. All of the sudden Joseph feels incredibly ashamed. How could he have fallen for a girl who would cheat on him after they were engaged? He was probably incredibly hurt. The bible says in Mathew 1:19 that Joseph was a just man, and that he just wanted a quiet divorce. The other option was stoning, so he could have had her stoned. He could have ended it then and there. But Joseph was a just man.
We live in a society that downplays men’s feelings. Things happen to us and we are supposed to just absorb them because “that’s just what men do”. There will be times though when we can’t compartmentalize our feelings. Our wives and children will do things to us that really hurt us. It will be in that moment that our hearts will be revealed. We see in Mathew 1:19 that Joseph was a good man. He had every right to expose Mary as a whore and have her stoned. He chose not to, he took the hard way out. He did the right thing. I am a young man and my character and sense of integrity is still developing. I am at a stage in my life where I can afford to be angry and not have it grossly affect my family and friends. Some of you don’t have that privilege. You have wives and children that look to you to set the standard of reaction in the house. When the team looses a game, when the dinner isn’t good, when the day is long and stressful, how dad reacts determines how the wives and children react. I pray all the time that I don’t take out my bad days on my kids. However I know that in the end that I need Jesus to be a just man. If you are having problems controlling your reactions then you need to turn to Jesus as well, and he will make you a just man.
God rewarded Joseph’s faith with a dream. He said that everything would be alrihgt and that Joseph needed to carry on with his plan to marry Mary. Of course now the rumors around town would not be that Mary had gotten pregnant partying at her aunts house, but that Jo and Mary had done sinful things and that Joseph sent Mary away. In a society that thrived on religious morality, it would be hard for a perceived evil-doer like Joseph to get contracted to a lot of carpentry jobs in Nazareth. Joseph persevered though. Just before Mary gave birth he packed up his belongings, her, and the donkey and headed on off to Bethlehem. Upon arriving in Bethlehem he had to scramble to find adequate shelter for his bursting wife. There with all the stinky loud livestock Joseph watched over a baby boy named Jesus that was lying in a trough.
It is a good thing for a man to have a goal and a vision. God has vision into eternity, and men should be like God in that regard. However God’s plans happen as he wills, our plans do not. Some of us expect to live easy lives in houses with white picket fences, 2.5 kids, a wife who works a partime job, and a dog. Sometimes we worship some sort of image of our future and will do anything to try and “get there”. God calls us to flexibility as men. I pray that we as guys would not give our effort to an ideal life but rather what Joseph did. He provided for his wife no matter what the social or economic cost. He followed the rules even when they were bothersome. He fought for the needs of his wife and was beside her through all the trials. Even though Jesus was not his kid, and Mary did not even meet his sexual need until after Jesus was born, he still worked his butt off providing for his adopted child and young bride.
The rest of Joseph’s story is short. When it was found out that toddler Jesus was in danger because of a jealous king Joseph once again uprooted his family and moved to Egypt. The rest of the story of Joseph is unclear. We can assume that he died before Jesus’ ministry started, because he is not mentioned after the story of Jesus in the temple. We assume that he died before Jesus’ ministry began.
The story of Joseph is one of sacrifice. Joseph gave of his reputation to serve the mission of God. He gave of his time to raise Christ. He gave of his security and rights to being a part in creating his first born son for the mission of God. He served Christ well, keeping him safe as the Lord commanded. We, as Christians, are called to join in the line of Joseph, as people who give of everything to serve Christ Jesus, our King.
- Godly Wisdom in Decision-Making Process, Part 3
- Godly Wisdom in Decision-Making Process, Part 2
- Godly Wisdom in Decision-Making Process
- Observations on Romans 7:13-25
- Christ Stops Our Swing from Tradition to Tradition
- Hallowed Be Thy Name
- Save Me, O My God
- Our Father Who Is In Heaven
- Psalm 2: The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed