What Happened To Joseph, Father of Jesus?

What Happened To Joseph, Father of Jesus?

Where the heck is Joseph?

Recently, I read all four gospels in their entirety; that is, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. According to certain translations, that's roughly 84,000 words. And you know what struck me? Well, many things actually, like

Why don't I do this more often?

I actually like reading the Bible.

Wow, I had no idea Jesus said that.

Wait, what?

That last one happened uncomfortably often, and I had to pose questions to facets of my faith I had never thought about before. Strangely though, out of the thousands of topics I could go into based on Jesus' life, death, resurrection, ascension, miracles, teachings, worldview, identity, disciples, etc., the thing that stuck out to me maybe more than it should have was actually something that wasn't mentioned.

Where the heck is Joseph?

You know, the guy who was doing just fine in life until he thought his bride was fooling around (I mean, who wouldn't? Unless of course you were told in a vision that what really happened was the Holy Spirit did some unexplainable, fancy shmancy "I'm God; I do what I want" stuff inside Mary's virgin womb... oh, wait...). Literally all we know about this guy is that he was a descendant of David and the royal line, he was engaged to and eventually married Mary, he didn't have sex with her until after Jesus was born, he was a righteous and gracious man, he followed Jewish customs, he probably wasn't too overbearing (he did lose the Son of God for a good three days), and he listened to angels when they show up in dreams. That's it. The earthly father of the most important man to ever walk the face of the earth is virtually an extra in the movie of Jesus' life.

But, why?

Turns out there a few theories. I did some digging, and Josephology is a real theological study sating back as far as AD 800 and growing in the Catholic tradition especially in the 16th century. It is pretty common scholarly thought that Joseph was a good bit older than Mary, and that he died before Jesus' ministry began. He isn't mentioned to be present with Mary and Jesus at the wedding in Cana, where Jesus' first sign of changing water into wine takes place. He definitely isn't around at Jesus' death, where Jesus bonds his disciple John to his mother, Mary, so that she will be taken care of. Furthermore, Jesus' body after death is taken charge of by Joseph of Arimathea, a role his father would have taken on had he been alive. Many think that when Jesus' dedication takes place in Luke 2, Joseph's death before Jesus' rise as a rabbi is foreshadowed when Simeon tells Mary she will live to be touched by Jesus' ministry.

I have heard some thought processes of Joseph potentially being ashamed of Jesus' abandonment of his family, trade, and home. Many thought that Jesus was a blasphemous radical; that certainly wouldn't have been a reputation you would want to know your son by. But I don't find this convincing given the circumstances of Jesus' birth, his claim of authority as early as age twelve, and his dedication at the temple. Furthermore, knowing that Joseph is regarded by God to be a righteous man (at least enough that he gets to father the Savior of the world, no pressure), he would have no standing to leave his family.

Based on this evidence, I find the straightforward, surface level reading of the text to indicate that Joseph died an uneventful death of old age prior to Jesus' ministry beginning. Looking deeper though, I think even God's providence was at work here. Joseph's absence leaves no room to question who Jesus' Father is. This makes the Gospel of John even more astonishing to read, as Jesus knows the Father, is in the Father, and is worked through by the Father, even as the Father. This has deep theological implications for our faith on multiple levels, and I regard that as a very good thing.

Cover Image Credit: Childhood of Christ

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What It’s Like Being A Christian At A Liberal University

The constant struggle of trying to dissolve the clichés and long-held assumptions towards religion.

Upon attending a liberal university, I started to understand the mindset many people have towards religion. Simply because I hold religious beliefs, I am often considered illogical, overly-optimistic and ignorant.

I’ve sat through biology lectures that teach students that some people have a greater propensity to "fall for religion" simply because of their genetic composition. I’ve heard my philosophy professor emphasize how "spirit" does not exist and that humans are just breathing machines with no soul or purpose.

I’ve listened to my art teacher imply that only those who want to live in fantasy believe in a god because they’ll do anything to help them sleep at night.

Being a Christian at a liberal campus can be difficult because of how people view Christians and what they associate with religion.

It’s hard to explain that the beliefs I hold did not come from force-fed religious jargon in my childhood. It’s hard to share that I believe in a God who practices love, acceptance and second chances and who does not, in fact, hate the gays. It’s hard to stand for a belief that has been tainted by uptight religious undertones and obligatory customs.

The God I believe in went to the church and ridiculed the priests for their strict laws and fixed judgments. The gospel I live by depicts a man who befriended the criminals and prostitutes; who demanded mercy to be given to the adulterous when death was her sentence. The religion I follow is meant for the broken, the imperfect and the lost, in order to give them the chance to become people greater than themselves.

When you take away the voices that misrepresent Christianity, you will see that its final message is for everyone to demonstrate love, patience, and compassion in everything they do. Whether you choose to believe my story or not, it’s important to understand what Christianity stands for--the same goes for every viewpoint out there.

When attending a university with a diverse array of belief systems, it’s important to remain open-minded and strive to understand the intricacies of different cultures and contrasting morals. It’s imperative to look past the stereotypes and assumptions held toward certain beliefs. Only through taking time to understand one another and different perspectives, can harmonious living and discourse be obtained.

Being a Christian at a liberal university can be challenging at times, but when you meet people that are truly willing to listen and present their beliefs to you, it can fuel genuine and enlightening conversation.

Being on this campus has not only allowed me to collaborate with like-minded believers but also to engage in authentic relationships with people that hold different perspectives than my own. College is a time for learning and absorbing everything we can. It is within this community that we can do just that, simply by listening to one another.

Cover Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez

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Thank You, InterVarsity, For Being The Best Part Of College Yet

"For where two or three are are gathered in my name, there am I among them" — Matthew 18:20

When I came to college, I knew that my faith was important to me, and I really wanted to be a part of a Christian organization. However, I had no idea how to find one or where to start. It turned out that instead of searching for and finding it on my own, InterVarsity, a large Christian organization at James Madison, found me. Here's how I became involved, and why it's the best thing that has happened to me since I've started my journey as a college student.

On my first week of college, (also known as FROG week) I heard through the grapevine about this weird event called the "watermelon bash." I wasn't sure if I wanted to go, as I hadn’t been off campus yet, and I didn’t know any upperclassmen that were involved in InterVarsity. At the last minute, some friends from my hall convinced me to tag along with them. So, I crammed into a car with a bunch of strangers (probably not the best judgment on my part, but it turned out okay) and off we went.

When we arrived, there was an overwhelming sea of people in the backyard of a house. It was a whirlwind; so many people introduced themselves to me, and I probably gave my phone number to at least 4 different small group leaders. And on top of that, it was dark outside, so I can hardly recognize most people that I met at that event. Nonetheless, I decided that Intervarsity, without a doubt, was where I wanted to be.

So, after that whirlwind event, I attended large group on a Friday night, where I fought for good seats and worshiped the Lord with my brand new lifelong friends. It was there that I signed up to be part of small group.

One day, I received a phone call from a number I had never seen before, and despite the fact that I almost never answer phone calls from people that aren't in my contacts, I decided to pick up.

"Hi Dakotah, this is BryAnna and Hannah, we're your small group leaders!"

And just like that, I became part of a group of girls that I now know will be lifelong friends, and for the next four years (and hopefully beyond our graduation day) we will spend time growing our friendships and supporting each others' relationships with Christ. What a great decision it was to answer that phone call.

Since then, our small group has experienced everything from tunneling, paint twister, and a weekend retreat with no phone service and lots of flannel, to receiving undeniable signs from God, and we have supported each other through everything that college life has thrown at us.

I am so thankful for InterVarsity, as it has given me amazing friends, beautiful memories, and the opportunity to take responsibility for my faith in God. I can't wait to see how God will continue to bless me through this organization during my time as a JMU student.

Cover Image Credit: Greyson Joralemon on unsplash

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