Thurs., Dec. 8, 2016
Matthew 1:18: This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
He was just a simple carpenter. Probably had all of his tools in one simple tool box. Nothing too flashy about Joseph. Until his fiancé announced she was pregnant. Now what is he to do?
Joseph is an interesting character in the Christmas story. Mostly because we know so little about him. Only in Mark’s gospel, which has no Christmas story, do we learn Joseph was a carpenter. (Mark 6:3.) He wasn’t a head carpenter but a simple carpenter. Most likely, he built house doors or pieces of equipment. Wouldn’t have he looked forward to teaching his sons his trade and skills someday? His plans got derailed a bit. After a dream, Joseph accepts his role as Jesus’ earthly father.
Based on how little we know about Joseph, he had to have been a salt-of-the-earth kind-of guy. How many guys will raise someone else’s child as their own? Joseph did. Yes, we may have heard similar stories. But this baby was THE MESSIAH.
My Grandpa Deaton was a salt-of-the-earth kind-of guy. He worked his entire life with his hands doing construction type projects. He kept the majority of his tools in a beat-up green tool box. Grandpa didn’t keep his toolbox in the garage, but in the car, ready for any emergency.
After my Grandpa passed away, my Dad kept his toolbox in the basement of their house. My Dad didn’t have the best tools. They were worn out, with pieces missing or elusive in their location. When unable to find a tool, sometimes my Dad directed us to his Dad’s toolbox. The understanding was anything any tool taken out of Grandpa’s tool box was immediately returned. Grandpa treated his tools with respect and care. Maybe because he made his living from these tools.
Just like Joseph. At the right time, I envision Joseph carefully showing his tools to Jesus. “Be very careful with them,” he’d say. “They will help you earn a living.” With no Menards or Home Depot nearby, a lost or broken tool was a deal breaker.
Joseph had more earthly influence on Jesus than any other man. Can you hear Joseph praying daily, “Help me be the kind of father you want me to be, O God.” With a humble spirit, he raised Jesus as if he was his own son; even though he wasn’t.
Simple. Humble. The right perspective. These are qualities I see in Joseph. He didn’t need the fanciest tools. He makes do with what was in his tool box. Joseph never speaks a line of text in scripture. There is no patron saint to Joseph; no special prayer honoring him. He’s fine being humble and simple.
Contrast this to society today. Too often, we want people to recognize and praise us for things we have done. I want others to thank me for what I contribute and to see my generosity.
This isn’t the kind of person God chooses to be Jesus’ earthly father. God chooses a simple carpenter who can pack every tool he has into one simple tool box. This is a man whose actions speak much louder than his words.
When we are clamoring for yours and other’s attention, direct us back to Joseph’s story. May his lack of lines, his willingness to be used in whatever way is deemed best inspire us to need a little less recognition and a lot more humbleness. Amen.
Today’s item for Jesus’ birthday box: toothpaste
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