While chatting with my Visiting Teachers who are friends who’ve been visiting with me for 14 years last night, we got to talking about Joseph and how appreciative we are of him. Being LDS, we ladies were chatting about how positively affirming it is when you come across a good guy who is quietly doing the right thing without fanfare and how Joseph was a prime example of this. Off the top of my head, I can think of several qualities and characteristics Joseph demonstrated which have often been overlooked as I got to the good bits of the scriptures.
Based on the premise that I believe the Nativity story to be true I started thinking about how impressive it was that Joseph was as chosen to be Jesus’s earthly dad as Mary was to be his earthly mother. His character and reliability must have been so consistent that Heavenly Father knew he could be trusted which is high praise indeed. He would be there to burp the baby, or change nappies, or teach the child to walk, and to confirm Mary was right when she’d said it was bed time, and to make sure the child could read and make sure there was enough money to buy food and keep a roof and teach the child how to be a carpentry apprentice.
We know relatively little about Joseph. He was descended from Kings which we know through the lineages or begat’s. It is likely that many people were descended from this lineage so wasn’t particularly a claim to fame but something to be considered.
He was a carpenter and could probably fabricate a cart or a shelving unit with no trouble. He would have gotten a few splinters over the years and his hands would have been rough but hopefully as experience increased, minor scrapes would have become fewer in number.
He let Mary ride on the donkey rather than have her walking. He found the only place in town available for her to rest and have the baby. He kept it together when his heart sank when they saw the stable. He received guests gracefully.
When they were warned, he left his business and took his family to live in Egypt for a few years until they were advised it was safe to return. That’s a few countries over and far from their family and network of friends and business contacts.
He was observant of the rites and traditions of his faith. We glean this from the account of Jesus being in the temple aged 12. The temple wasn’t a scary place, it was a place they felt quite at home.
They were not wealthy. When it was time to make a sacrifice it is reported they bought a bird, not a lamb, and this was because they were poor, effectively.
But the part of the accounts which most impress me are when he first heard about the pregnancy. He worried. He worried about what people would say, what his responsibilities would be, what people would think of him, was Mary telling the truth, that it was tradition to put her out and embarrass her but it states specifically that he did not want to make a public show of her, and when it was confirmed to him that Mary was telling the truth, he had a believing heart and chose to be involved and hold no good thing back.
He and Mary went on to have further children. When Jesus declared the beginning of his mission, lots of people turned to each other and said “What, Joseph’s boy?” which to me shows he didn’t treat their firstborn any differently or separately.
He was a good dad. My own supposition is that the responsibility would have weighed heavily on his mind on occasion.
He honoured his distant but Royal heritage and raised a most wonderful boy. I am thankful that he accepted that responsibility when it would have been so easy to have Mary chastised and quite possibly stoned to death for the disgrace of being an unmarried mother. I am thankful for his faithful heart. I am thankful that he carried on with a grace and dignity, and hopefully humour, to raise the boy to be a man. I am thankful that his son loved him and respected him. The world needs more dads like Joseph.
From my perspective as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I look forward to the opportunity to thank him in person one day for all he did. I would like to thank Josephs dad too for raising such a good son that would do all of these things. It’s going to be a great day when we get to spend time with the people we have come to respect through the histories which were written down and preserved for us. Exciting times lay ahead.