Jesus was God’s son. He came here to live like one of us. He experienced our physical feelings and our emotions.
You would think that a collection of books about a person would include a more detailed family history. The Bible lists the genealogy of Jesus and his mother Mary stayed with Him until the end. But we don’t know a lot about his earthly father Joseph.
Matthew calls him a righteous man. You can tell by his reaction to a very troubling situation that he was.
I don’t know how many of us could bear the idea of our fiancé coming up pregnant before we had consummated our relationship.
But Joseph knew his Bible (which of course only included the Old Testament at that point). He knew about his heritage. He knew about the prophecies in Isaiah. He could never have assumed that he would play this role in the story.
But while he was dealing with a difficult situation of what to do with this pregnant young woman to whom he was betrothed, an angel came to him in a dream and reminded him of the words of the prophet and showed him what they meant.
Matthew had to have heard the story 30 years later after he joined Jesus’ ministry team. There is no reason to believe Joseph was around to tell the story. But I’m sure it was a story that had been retold many times in the family. In Matthew 1:22-23, he tells about the words the angel told Joseph. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” - which means, “God with us.”
That is the keynote of the Christian faith. Jesus was God’s son. He came here to live like one of us. He experienced our physical feelings and our emotions.
One thing he experienced was loss. We saw him weep when he lost is friend Lazarus even though he knew that he would bring his friend back to life just moments later.
One loss we are left to assume he felt is the loss of his earthly father.
The last we hear about the man God entrusted His son to on earth was when the boy was 12 and unbeknownst to His parents, Jesus stayed behind when the family headed back home after the annual pilgrimage to observe the Passover. When they found their son, He was teaching in the temple.
Jesus was God’s son, but Joseph played a role in His discipline and instruction. He was a righteous man who raised Jesus in the traditions and practices of his faith. Before He was a teen, Jesus was teaching in the temple. That implies not only His divinity, but also the training His father had given him.
Sometime between that mention when Jesus was 12 and when His ministry began when he was 30, Joseph apparently died. I think they had a few more years together because Jesus was still tied to Joseph. When Jesus began his ministry, people still referred to Jesus as “the carpenter’s son.”
I don’t think if Joseph had died 18 years before that many people would have made that connection.
When I lost my father this summer after a short illness, it was comforting to know that the God that I was praying to had felt that loss and knew what I was dealing with. Of course God understands. He knows everything about us. But as a man, Jesus wept over the loss of His father.
He didn’t just make the shoes. He walked in them.
Immanuel. God with us. He was one of us.
That is what today is all about. Christmas is the celebration of the day when Jesus was born.
Whether this is your first Christmas without someone you love or another heartbreak is threatening to steal the joy of your celebration, remember that the Christ child whose birth we celebrate today has felt your pain and can help ease it.
He came on the first Christmas day to become Immanuel – God with us.
And He is still with us today.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.