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Details of Joseph’s life are sparse. Luke 2 tells us that he was Mary’s husband and foster-father of Jesus. Following brief stays in Bethlehem and Egypt the little family settled in Nazareth where Joseph made a living as a carpenter. Not much else is known about him in spite of his noble descent. Matthew 1 traces his generations to Abraham; Luke 3 to Adam. 

But what a remarkable man he was. He provided a safe home for the boy Jesus: love, protection, care, guidance, and teaching. This alone would set him apart from many other fathers in Israel. 

One cannot escape the impression that Joseph was a quiet, caring and thoughtful man. No better foster-father could have been appointed for the boy Jesus. Tradition has it that Joseph did not become old. That would explain that the gospels provide no further details of Joseph’s’ life.

The Bible pictures many men and women whose lives we may want to emulate. For me, Joseph is one of them in spite of the absence of drama and action in his life. We all, actually, appreciate people who are thoughtful and don’t talk overly much. They are the people who can listen, who understand, who can bear with our weaknesses, and will love us even when underserving. They are the Josephs in our lives. We all know such people. They may not always be achievers, they will not demand much of us, they don’t outdo us, they will listen to what we need to tell them, they will bear with our weaknesses, and they enter into our situations. 

In these competitive days the world needs more Josephs. I need to become a bit more like Joseph.                    


Thank you, Rev. Tamminga.  As always, you are insightful, pastoral, kind, practical -- and succinct.  Like Joseph.  May God continue to bless you and use you to be a blessing.

Thanks for getting us thinking about the almost invisible Joseph. But emulate Joseph "in spite of the absence of drama and action in his life"? Do angel visits, a trip to Bethlehem for a census, delivering a baby in a barn without medical assistance, receiving Magi from the East with expensive gifts and strange devotion (though possibly later in the narrative), more travel to Egypt to flee the sword of Herod, then back to Nazareth not count as significant "drama and action"? We may not know much about him, and he may well have been a "quiet, caring and thoughtful man." But as we are reminded that "still waters run deep," I suspect he had more capacity to bend with and absorb and process currents of amazing drama than most of us might. 

Thank you Phil and Ron for your comments. Much appreciated!

In response to Ron, your remarks are well taken. Indeed, the care and services of Joseph around the first season of our Savior's life are highly significant. Thanks for pointing that us all. Joseph is an example to us all and worthy of our highest esteem. And the Lord does not owe us an account why so little is known of Joseph's later life.

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