As I have said before, Joseph is one of my favourite unsung heroes of the Christmas story. He never says a word. He questions, wants to follow the law 100% – what with Mary being pregnant and all that. As a lawful man he should have had her stoned to death. Funny things laws at times, but that is probably for another post entirely around women’s rights, etc.
The other day I was reading through the Genealogies in Matthew 1:1-17, encouraged by the Red Letter Christians advent calendar. Now this is Joseph’s genealogy because the prophets said that the Messiah would come through the line of David and that was Joseph’s line, hence why Joseph took the pregnant Mary with him to register for the census in Bethlehem, the town of David. So again I am struck by how important it is to God that Joseph is included in the story of Jesus. In the first two chapters of Matthew Joseph is actually the lead protagonist of the tale. It is his actions that keep the story moving and keep Jesus from being killed – first by potential stoning of Mary and then by Herod’s massacre of the baby boys.
The prompt was “which name stands out?” Now I was surprised that it was Jehoiachin [read more about him and his demise in 2 Kings 24:14-15 and 2 Chronicles 36:10]. He is the last king of Judah who gets taken away to captivity in Babylon. Though he does also get treated well by the son of his capture. So Joseph is from a line of kings and there is that royal connection. It makes me wonder how he felt about that. Proud? Disillusioned? Ignored it?
In the UK we have a tradition of royal households being dispossessed by other royal household. And countries like France and Russia have lost their royal households due to revolutions. Once in the UK there was a DNA investigation that found someone who allegedly had more of a claim to the British throne through an older royal household than the present royal family, who were actually invited in by the British government because they didn’t want a Catholic on the throne back in the 18th century.
So here is Joseph of this royal household that was dispossessed by an oppressive regime but who still knows his lineage .
But also back in the First book of Samuel God uses Samuel to tell the people that having a king isn’t a good idea and that they won’t be happy with it. If they just followed God they would have freedom but a king would expect things of them; tithes, to be his army and fight for him, to work in his household, etc.
Now here’s the twist for me – God says that having a king isn’t a good idea then brings in the saviour of not just the Jews but of the whole world through a lineage that God said was not a good plan. Now that is an interesting plot twist. I find this whole thing fascinating and I think it gives great hope to all of us.
We too often do what we really shouldn’t do. It is not like it is a bad thing but it isn’t God’s best for our lives. Often we can feel, and be made to feel, that we’ve missed it and so we don’t see the restoration, the redemption, the way we could be part of something so much more than just us and our little clique.
I’d like to think that once Joseph got his head round that idea that him, a descendant of the royal house of Judah, was now going to be the link between that and Jesus’s kingship over the whole world that he had this huge smile on his face. I wonder if that was why he was able to leave his reputation, his job, his town, and not just go to Bethlehem but then go on to Egypt, to be part of making sure God’s plan came to fruition. And that he was willing not to need to be in the foreground. He could take an active part in Jesus’s early upbringing but be willing take a back seat in the Christmas story.
As I stay pondering this I hope that I am willing to take a back seat and not have to hog the limelight when God allows me to be part of sometimes in the lives of those around me. To not expect that I will get my recognition, my five minutes of fame, but that I will be ready and willing to do as I am being asked by the Creator of the Universe and just let it be.
That is my hope for me through this Advent season and into the unknowing of what 2023 beings.