In the Scriptures, we are told about Mary, the mother of Jesus; but Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus remains a shadowy figure in the background. Some years ago I saw an unusual nativity painting: Mary tired after the birth, Joseph looking perplexed, as if he did not know what hit him. They are both focused on a simple manger where you could see the top of a baby’s head. At this Christmas time, I imagine what Joseph is thinking …
Voices from Scripture: Joseph
IAM glad that we found him, his mother was so worried when day after day, we couldn’t find him. She couldn’t sleep and was fretting so much. And of course the other children picked up her anxiety and they got fretful too.
“I had to be in my father’s house,” he said. I know I’m not his father, but I love him as my son. I expected him to be in my house! Now that I have my own home here in Nazareth, I suppose I’ve become more settled.
It’s not the most exciting place, Naza-reth … can anything good come out of Nazareth, they say. But it’s home. We’ve moved so much, it’s good to finally be able to settle down.
Bethlehem was a nice place, the home of my fathers, but that wasn’t the place for us. Then we were told to go to Egypt. Egypt, of all places! A place of bondage and misery. But the dream was so clear … and Herod wouldn’t think of looking for us there. So we went. We stayed there some years, had other kids, worked my trade as a carpenter.
I know Mary didn’t really like it there, but we made do. Then, another dream, and we were told we could come back here to Judea. We were glad to, but when we got there we found out that Archelaus was ruler. That was no good, considering who his fa-ther was, so I brought the family here to Nazareth. A bit far and obscure, but at least it’s safe. Safe for the boy.
I don’t know how we managed in those early days … people telling us what a special child he was. “Take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” It was a dream, but I heard the voice so clearly. I didn’t know what to make of it. I mean, how can she be with child without knowing a man?
Impossible, but not for God, I guess. But as Mary and I talked, I realised that she had seen an an-gel. Hah! She saw him and talked with him, though I only dreamt it. Then the old man and the prophetess in Jeru-salem said that the child was the conso-lation for Israel and the light for the Gentiles. I can’t think why we should have to deal with the Gentiles. But since those early days, nothing else has happened since.
Nobody really talks about it now, that’s the advantage of living here, we’re like any other ordinary family. He looks ordinary, but he’s got the most wonderful smile. And he seems like one of the boys, and most times he is, but he can be so patient with the younger ones. Still, he’s a good lad, proud to call him my son.
I know Mary’s kept those gifts the kings gave. I don’t understand their signifi-cance, though Mary seems to. She didn’t seem perturbed when they came to visit, though I was rather taken aback! Gold for a king, frankincense for a priest and myrrh for a sacrifice, she tells me.
Is that who he is, a king, a priest and a sacrifice? But that doesn’t make sense be-cause you can’t be all three. The shepherds were more my kind, but when they began to worship the child, that threw me off! You only worship God, so … that means that my son is God, and king, and priest and sacrifice? I don’t get it.
Then yesterday, he said, “I had to be in my Father’s house.” In the Temple? Yahweh is his father? He is Yahweh’s son? I know he’s not my son, but he’s Yahweh’s son? What does this all mean? He’s just a lad! Has all this to do with what happened at his birth? All that everyone said about him, all those signs, all that moving that we did?
But why me, why us? Mary will say I ask too many questions. But I think by ask-ing questions. Why me? There’s nothing special about me; father used to say that the only thing we had is that we’re direct descendents of King David. (Matthew 1 & 2; Luke 2).
Kwa Kiem Kiok, a member of Trinity Methodist Church, is on sabbatical at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, the United States.
ALL THOSE SIGNS?
‘ Yahweh is his father? He is Yahweh’s son? I know he’s not my son, but he’s Yahweh’s son? What does this all mean? He’s just a lad! Has all this to do with what happened at his birth? All that everyone said about him, all those signs, all that moving that we did? ’