Matthew 1:19-21 ESV And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Joseph...was a carpenter? Joseph was a good man, a just man... one as he ought to be. * unwilling...to cast Mary to public shame though he might have. Joseph...was a carpenter Did he feel dismay, pound his fist, spittle spray at events going out of square? Steady on...yet navigating by Spirit dreams (this is paradox); holiness swirling about and within him. Pattern abandoned...Joseph crafted shelter, protection climbed a scaffold of discernment? What form did decisive urgency take as Joseph waited, with the rest of the world for salvation to drop from the womb of a girl? As they fled through the night 'protect' pumping through his veins Joseph guards the salvation of his people.
See Matthew 1:18-25, 2:13-15. “Matthew 1 (ESV) – Now the birth of Jesus.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 24 Dec, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/mat/1/18-25/s_930018.
Joseph didn’t wait for salvation from the womb of any girl, but his girl. The sense of responsibility must have been crushing. Yet there is no indication in scripture, that Joseph operated with anything but merciful kindness, patience, and the will to act decisively. Upon Holy Spirit dreams. Hesed. Prophecy after prophecy to be fulfilled.
What strikes me at this moment in the history of the world, is Joseph navigating a delicate, but weighty interpersonal situation, while balancing the weight of prophecy and the world’s salvation. Did his actions qualify as basic kingdom carpentry? What about now, as Jesus-followers try to do the same…good and just actions, as we ought to be? The good news is, there is a Navigator. This poem ends in questions, because I do not have the answers (would have dropped the crossbeam at saving face). Joseph…was a carpenter. Who are you…and I?
Some extra thoughts if you are interested:
In a sermon series this fall, about one’s acting purpose under God, author and speaker Gary Thomas asked the question, “What’s in your hand?” What would God have you do with that ? Joseph… was a carpenter.
Isaiah 5 enunciates the woes of the Israelite people – attitudes and actions that interfere with their delivery of God’s justice and righteousness to the world. One of those woes (vs. 8) alludes to pushing people out and away from receiving God’s promised inheritance. Joseph…did not do this. He protected God’s salvation for the world. Because he was a just man, a good man…one as he ought to be. This serves as a POWERFUL example to me. His tools? The literacy of his everyday craft, humility, kindness and seeming moment by moment reliance upon the Spirit of God. He did it by being who he was—a carpenter, a man, one reliant upon the Spirit of God.
Reflection Questions: Is there some arena in which you, like Joseph, are being asked to ‘not fear’ and trust both the work and the leading of the Holy Spirit?
What does it take, to move you from casting shame, to sheltering another?
Is there a way in which God is asking you to protect the delivery of his salvation to others in the world?
What tools do you use, to define who will be Jesus’s people?
These are questions I am asking myself, over and again, searching the night sky, for clues to navigation. Godspeed to you, in your journey of ‘bearing salvation.’ j
*This elaboration of the Greek word used for Joseph’s character comes from Strong’s concordance. You can access details via the Blue Letter Bible link above.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.