Posted by: Santos Garcia | Saturday, June 2, 2007

Eulogy to a Step-Father

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http://bible-pictures.severetnikovs.com/

Anointed Christian Art of Andrejs Severetnikovs

Have you ever wondered about what kind of father Joseph was to Jesus? Can we know much about a man from so little written about him in Holy Scripture? Those recurrent thoughts lead me to meditate closely upon what is stated, and try to flesh out a person with such a grave responsibility and calling: to protect, nurture, and mentor the Savior of all mankind.

In only a handful of scripture references we can recognize some background, and begin to perceive the character of a Godly man. Besides the mention of his name in the genealogy listed in Matthew 1:16, we first find him beginning with verse 18 engaged to a young maiden dealing with a serious crisis: she was pregnant “before they came together”. His mercy is evident in that, though being as stated a just man (holy, righteous, and equitable in character), he did not desire to expose Mary to either public spectacle or ridicule, nor to condemnation according to the Law by stoning her to death. He would allow her to be removed from their environment privately… avoiding a scandal.

There was no righteous indignation there, but instead a broken heart that cared enough for his betrothed to offer a merciful option. Joseph was also a sensitive, devout man who understood that GOD often speaks to us in dreams and visions. When an angelic visitor told him in a dream not to fear marrying Mary, the angel called him Joseph, thou son of David”. The angel gave him the most unbelievable reason for her embarrassing situation- she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit! Joseph awoke and did as the angel commanded (Matt. 1:24), showing his obedient nature.

Joseph then found himself with a very pregnant young lady required by the decree of the reigning Caesar to respond to a census and travel to Bethlehem (see Luke 2). He was a law-abiding individual who willingly made the arduous trip, certainly with a sober concern for his wife’s delicate condition. GOD had orchestrated the series of events and HIS timing was perfect… the fullness of time had arrived for Emmanuel to be born. And from his birthplace to the cross and resurrection, He completely fulfilled several hundred prophecies concerning the Messiah.

Simeon embraces his Messiah

Also significant was Joseph’s self-control (v25) in not knowing her intimately” until Jesus was fully born. At His birth, Joseph and Mary had to ponder the wild-eyed claims of the shepherds who came into the stable/cave declaring a fantastic report of an angelic choir filling the skies proclaiming this Holy Child’s birth. Obedient to the law of purification (for Mary…see Lev.12) and coinciding with the need for Jesus’ circumcision, Joseph took an offering of sacrifice to the temple. The fact that it was a pair of birds shows that they were apparently too poor to offer a lamb. He must have exhausted his resources on the trip, thus only bringing the minimal offering required by the Law. This gives credibility to the premise that the Magi visited them in Bethlehem some time after Jesus’ circumcision. Eight days later at His presentation at the synagogue for circumcision according to the Law, they were again awed by the testimony of both Simeon and Anna, both aged worshipers of the Living GOD who prophesied concerning the destiny of Joseph’s Step-Son. He must have been confounded in hearing the importance of the Lord Jesus Christ’s life to all the human family (Luke 2:25-38). I firmly believe that these prophetic statements so indelibly impressed Joseph that he as the priest of his household set his mind and heart to raise Jesus in the fear and admonition of the Lord. To his best ability he desired to train this Child to be a faithful Jew, obedient to the Law of Moses, in submission to authority, and productive in His life.

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Anna the Prophetess and Simeon Rejoice Over Their ‘Messiah’ & Ours!

After the provision of the Lord through the visiting Wise Men (gold, etc.), they had need to sustain themselves in a foreign land. Joseph again obeyed the Lord in response to a warning dream. An angel spoke with great urgency of the peril Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt… for Herod will seek… to destroy Him” (Matt.2:13-23). When they finally returned also in response to a dream, Joseph and family settled in Nazareth.

Luke 2:41 shows Joseph and Mary’s faithfulness to their GOD- they went every year to Jerusalem from Nazareth to observe the Feast of Passover. Now when Jesus was twelve years old, it says He was able to confound the learned Pharisees who were astonished at His understanding of the Torah, and His profound answers to their many questions. His Bar-Mitzvah put them to shame. The Lord Jesus did not exercise His divine attributes during His entire life and ministry, but rather was directly empowered by the Holy Spirit after His baptism at thirty years of age. This wisdom is a clear demonstration of a godly upbringing and training in the home and synagogue, most likely under Joseph’s careful direction and guidance. This faithful step-father also taught his Son the trade of carpentry, certainly attaining the level of craftsman- though we well know that Jesus was more than a carpenter.

I believe that GOD honored Joseph’s faithfulness in parenting Jesus as well as he and Mary did. He must have blessed the family business, for we find allusions to this when Jesus during His ministry visits His hometown. Luke 4:16-22 describes the fact that Jesus was allowed to read and to speak to the synagogue congregation. He chose the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 61, and they declared Is this not the carpenter’s Son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters are they not all with us?” (Matthew 13:55,56… also Mark 6:3). Note that not only does it name four specific brothers, but says of His sisters (plural) are they not all with us?… not both with us, but all with us. I submit to you that the Lord Jesus had four brothers and several sisters. Joseph knew Mary and his quiver was full (Psalm 127:3-5).

Unfortunately- although an argument from silence, Joseph must have died prematurely. Sometime after Jesus’ Bar-Mitzvah at age twelve and the beginning of His ministry at thirty years of age, Joseph is gone. Jesus as the Eldest Son of the family became the Head of the household. He assumed the responsibility of carrying on the family business. He was likely instrumental in his brothers’ training during their growing years and the absence at some point of their father. Joseph experienced the joy of a large and productive family, and left them a legacy evidenced not only in the life of Jesus, but his brothers James and Jude as well. He must have loved and treasured Mary dearly, and honored her according to Prov.31.

One final profound thought: Joseph was chosen by GOD the Father just as much as Mary was Blessed among all women. He was deemed worthy of the Father’s trust in raising the Son of GOD as He needed to be- to fulfill His destiny. Yet Joseph served another prophetic purpose also. There is a mystery hidden in the genealogical records of our Lord Jesus. Matthew 1 reveals the line of Jesus starting with Abraham through King David to Solomon to His step-father Joseph. Luke 3:23 goes backward from Jesus. It says …being, so it was thought, the son of Joseph…then immediately switches to Heli (Mary’s biological father), goes back to Nathan (another of King David’s sons), and then back through Abraham to Adam.

Many do not realize first of all how critical these genealogical records were to the Jewish people, and secondly what a devastating loss to Israel happened when all the records were destroyed, when Jerusalem was burned to the ground in 70 A.D. Legally under divine and civil law, the Messiah had to prove his credentials and lawful right to the throne of David… the Royal Seed was through Solomon. The dilemma was compounded with the fact that in order to be born sinless, He must be born of a virgin- that the Seed of GOD may fulfill all divine requirements. In Mary’s line he was a direct descendant of King David according to the flesh (through Nathan). In Israel though, the legal right to the throne was transmitted only through the male line.

In Joseph’s lineage to Solomon was Jeconiah, an evil man of whom it was written that none of his descendants would ever rule in Judah (Jeremiah 22:28-30). So through Mary, Jesus obtained his literal descent from King David. From her marriage to Joseph, who was also a son of David, He obtained the legal right to David’s throne. Since she was Joseph’s wife before Jesus was born, this made Joseph- Jesus’ legal father. Therefore Joseph and Mary had to be the parents (step-father and biological mother) of Jesus the Christ, in order to fulfill the prophecy about Messiah. Joseph had to be married to Mary before Jesus was born, so He could have the legal right to David’s throne through Joseph. At the same time, Joseph could not ‘know’ Mary intimately as his wife until after Jesus was born, for He was to be born (fully delivered) of a virgin.

GOD the Father’s divine order was fulfilled in every detail! Thank GOD for Joseph, a faithful man of GOD- whom I look forward to greeting on the other side.

For deeper insight into how GOD the Father sees His children; to better understand the elementary principles of Christ (Hebrews 6:1-3); the ‘mysteries’ of Christ’s Kingdom; and our individual and corporate calling, commission, and empowerment- please review my first published book via the Table of Contents on the Amazon website linked here via Book Title:  “Thy Kingdom Come- Here and Now!”

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‘Oh Holy Night’  by David Phelps

(with complete original verses below)

Oh Holy Night

		Oh holy night!
		The stars are brightly shining
		It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
		Long lay the world in sin and error pining
		Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
		A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
		For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

			Fall on your knees
			Oh hear the angel voices
			Oh night divine
			Oh night when Christ was born
			Oh night divine
			Oh night divine

		Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
		With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
		So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
		Here come the wise men from Orient land
		The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
		In all our trials born to be our friend.
		Truly He taught us to love one another
		His law is love and His gospel is peace
		Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
		And in His name all oppression shall cease
		Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
		Let all within us praise His holy name.
   May the Miracle of His first Advent, quicken your hearts and minds
        to yearn for and anticipate His soon Glorious Appearing!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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Responses

  1. What a beautiful and moving portrait of Joseph. Thank you for sharing!

  2. The last picture you posted with Joseph, Mary and Jesus I have a painting of that in my house and it was signed by the artist. I have been trying to find out more information about the painting and the artist. Do you know anything about it or know of where I can find out more information on this painting? Thank-you

    • Dear Julie- on the blogpost itself under the painting is the artist’s URL; which is http://bible-pictures.severetnikovs.com/. That is the best help I can provide, other than suggesting that you “Google’ the painter by name which is also under the painting. Blessings in Christ, Santos

  3. Thank-you Santos, however that’s not the painting I’m talking about. At the bottom of your post there is a picture of Jesus as a child holding a cross, with Joseph holding an ax and with Mary looking on. The artists name on my painting is Giovanni. Thank-you, Julie


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