Guest Blogger – Neil Jennings - email Neil
There were two Josephs in Jesus’ life. Each was a great individual of unwavering character, and they each present us with superb examples of how to handle difficult situations in life.
The first Joseph was Jesus’ father. He was present at the Lord’s birth, he helped bring Jesus into the world, and he cared for Jesus as both a baby and as a child.
The second Joseph was one of Jesus’ disciples. He was not only a follower of Christ, but he was also present during Jesus’ teaching ministry, and he personally cared for the Lord’s body after He was crucified on the cross.
God strategically placed these two Josephs at the beginning and at the end Jesus’ life for a specific purpose. They each had a special role to play, and they each carried out their responsibilities marvelously, doing exactly what God tasked them to do.
Human Father of the Heavenly Son…
Joseph, Jesus’ father, was faced with a monumental decision when he learned early in his relationship with Mary that she was pregnant. His initial reaction was to quietly dissolve their relationship.
Joseph’s decision speaks volumes regarding the depth of his character. How many of us, if we were faced with a similar circumstance, would quietly deal with the issue? Without a doubt, most of us would broadcast the sordid details on Facebook, we would send out dozens of emails, we’d blog, we’d text, and we’d tweet, and we would tell everyone who would listen about how we’d been wronged. Not Joseph. He cared for Mary, and he chose to do what was best for her. What a rare and beautiful example of how we should be.
Before Joseph had a chance to act an angel of the Lord told him that Mary’s pregnancy was the work of the Holy Spirit. Once again, Joseph strayed from the “normal” reaction. In fact he did none of those things that our culture teaches us to do. He did not “pray about it.” He didn’t question God’s decision (“Why me Lord, why me?) He did not even ask for a sign of “confirmation,” as Zechariah had done, (when told of Elizabeth’s impending pregnancy). Contrary to popular wisdom, Joseph quietly accepted God’s will, took Mary as his wife, and joyfully assumed his responsibilities as Jesus’ earthly father. In doing so he left us with another excellent example of how to act.
Courageous follower of the Crucified Christ
Joseph of Arimathea was the second Joseph in Jesus’ life. He was a rich man and a member of the High Council, he was respected, and he was well known within his community. Joseph had position, power, and wealth. Basically he had everything that life had to offer. In short, he had a lot to lose.
Within a few hours of Jesus dying on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. If Joseph’s faith in Jesus was not widely known by that point, this bold move announced to the entire world that he was a follower. This was not a good thing. To be a follower of Jesus, in his day and time, meant that you were likely to be ostracized from society, persecuted, and maybe even killed. Joseph risked everything in standing up and taking on the task that God had clearly laid before him.
Joseph took Christ’s body down from the cross, and he prepared Jesus for burial. He supplied his own tomb, and he personally placed Jesus’ body in it. Joseph knew there were dramatic consequences to caring for the Lord’s body, but he did not waiver, and in doing so he left us a sterling example to follow.
It’s incredible that God placed two men with the same name, both stalwart individuals, and both men of character, as “bookends” at opposite ends of Jesus’ time on earth. Why would God assign two men, each with the same name, to such positions?
The name Joseph means to increase. As demonstrated by the lives of our two Josephs they did indeed increase Jesus’ influence and His effectiveness in His ministry. They each left us with a roadmap to follow when we are faced with life’s inevitable and difficult situations. As individuals, they made themselves completely available to God, and they completed their respective assignments when called upon.
God, please help all of us to be a Joseph, especially to those whose lives we affect. Help us to have the strength of character, the patience, and the fortitude to do the right thing when we face difficult decisions. Thank you for giving us clear examples of how we ought to live through the actions of these two superb men named Joseph.