Most of the attention of Christmas centers around the newborn baby Jesus, and rightly so. There are hymns about his birth, songs about Mary, themes of shepherds and angels, stories of wise men and kings.
It’s not every day that you get a Savior born in a stable. On that stage long ago, and in countless Christmas plays since, we see the scenery set with barn animals and bright stars while a virgin and her child are center-stage, brightly lit for all to see and adore.
And then there’s Joseph.
The husband who was not the father, the father who would care for another’s Son.
The next few decades are mostly wrapped in obscurity, as the biblical record jumps almost, but not quite, without touching down again between the birth and the public ministry of Jesus the Messiah. Yet I cannot help but think about that young man Joseph, who made the noble choice to stand by his young bride who would carry a Savior in her womb.
As was the norm in those days, he had to grow up fast. Joseph, a poor man with little to his name, had large responsibilities thrust upon him suddenly, along with the social humiliation of a pregnant wife-to-be whom he not yet bedded. But the word of God and the pledge of his bride were enough for him, and in that remarkable setting of the birth their first-born, he had to become a man, a man who would shepherd the Man destined to become the great Shepherd.
We know almost nothing of those coming-of-age years under Joseph’s care. The spotlight is not on him in the biblical record. But parenthood is best seen by the end result. His young man turned the entire civilized world upside-down. Yes, He was the Son of a divine Father. But He was also Joseph’s son during those formative years.
Perhaps it’s just was well that Joseph’s fumbles and perplexities and struggles to provide a living and an example are shrouded in forgetfulness. A boy becoming a man is difficult at best; a man becoming a man is no less problematic. But, like most forward-thinking Dads, I’m betting Joseph was happy to be behind the scenes while his son’s star was rising. After all, that’s why you do the Dad thing.
Way to go, Joseph. My Christmas hat’s off to you.