What we know about Joseph, the earthly and legal Father of Jesus, is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Joseph's complete genealogy is given in Matthew 1:1-18. Though it is curious to new readers why this long genealogy is given, we quickly learn its importance. Genealogies were very important to the Jews but these verses demonstrate the lineage of Jesus Christ back to Abraham for all mankind to recognize another fulfillment of the many prophecies given about the Messiah.
Joseph was a direct descendant from David. He was a gracious man who kept the laws of Judaism and was well respected. He was a man of meager means but none the less, an honorable and faithful man. Skilled as a carpenter in the small town of Nazareth, Joseph spent time teaching his son the trade as well as providing spiritual training. Jesus is very often described as working and being taught by Joseph in his carpenter's shop. This was an inherited occupation Jesus performed before going into His ministry.
Joseph observed the Holy Days and Hebrew Feast with his family as shown in Luke 2:41-42. "Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual." We also know that through Joseph's sensitivity and obedience to God, he fulfilled the role of protector and guardian of Jesus. He enacted the role of 'father' admirably in every way. Little detail of Joseph is given in the Gospels so because Jesus entrusted Mary to the care of John, it is speculated that Joseph may have died a natural death between their visit to the temple when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:41-51) but before the Baptism of Jesus when He was thirty (Mark 1:9-11).
It is clear that others recognized Joseph as the legal father of Jesus in verses such as John 1:45. Joseph's influence during those early years must have been incredible. When Jesus spoke of God as being like a loving Father, he could draw from his youth the kind of love he had from Joseph. Joseph stands as a testimony to the value of integrity, obedience, faithfulness, and especially to honoring the entrusted role of "fatherhood."
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