Posted by: pmarkrobb | December 20, 2020

the father of the Father’s Son

Since 1976, there has been an inauspicious title bestowed upon the very last player taken in the National Football League’s annual draft. In an otherwise mountain-top moment that countless kids dream of, they become Mr. Irrelevant. Oddly enough, this title popped into my mind recently as I was spending a bit of time considering the Nativity and the character of Joseph.

He was the father of the Father’s Son. Yes, read that carefully and slowly again, the father of the Father’s Son. Doesn’t that just sound oddly redundant? Stepping into the sandals, can you see how this bends a bit in the direction of the Nativity’s Mr. Irrelevant? Jesus needed a mother. Prophesy was clear that the Messiah would be born of a woman (Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:14). The divinity of the Christ-child made it clear that he wouldn’t be born of an earthly father. When the angel visited an expectant parent and exclaimed, “Greetings, favoured one!”, he wasn’t talking to Joseph.

But here’s where that whole vain train ends. That isn’t how things are with God. There isn’t a person anywhere, ever (are you listening?) who is irrelevant to God. This is God’s story, and He doesn’t do irrelevant. So, here is the truth I heard first and loudest but that is also, quite literally, only half of the whole truth … God doesn’t need us. It is a genuine, capital “T” truth that God doesn’t need you or I to accomplish His will. And yet, the inextricable, other-side-of-the-same-coin Truth in the form of a grand mystery is that He desperately wants us and chooses for us to go and do with Him in accomplishing His will. We are His masterpiece, remember (Ephesians 2:10 NLT), created intentionally for good things He authored specifically for us in eternity past.

Proof isn’t required here, but didn’t prophecy clearly say that Jesus would come from David’s line? Joseph is not irrelevant. In the harrows and hardships of the pregnancy and birth and fleeing to Egypt, wouldn’t a decisive, selfless, obedient and merciful man be an essential helpmate to the favoured one God had chosen to carry his Son? Joseph is not irrelevant. The sensitivity and strength Joseph showed at every turn was a beautiful, godly example to every husband. And his decisiveness and devotion were clearly evidenced in each of the visits of an angel in a dream. On all four occasions, after the angel speaks, you’ll find some variation of the words, “and Joseph woke up and did what the angel said.”

Scripture speaks of Joseph as a just, faithful or righteous man (Matthew 1:19 – various translations). To me, this is God’s choosing of Noah as the only man suitable with whom to start over again. It is His choosing of Abraham who would raise the knife on his own beloved son. It is His choosing of Joseph with the colored coat, and Elizabeth with the barren womb and David and Mary Magdalene and Joshua and Ruth and Jonah and Anna and so, so many others.

Joseph’s wife would be ever near in Jesus’ earthly ministry and in the deeply sacred work of His dying and rising. We would hear nothing of Joseph after a casual reference in the temple incident when Jesus was twelve. But he was, and forever will be, the father of the Father’s son. He was not needed, but intentionally chosen. He was the essential non-essential. He was everything that God desires in each of us — merciful, faithful, selfless and true.

Our attentions will soon be immersed in the celebration of our dear Savior’s birth. Emmanuel, God with us. May our eyes be fixed on Him as we sing for joy and fall to our knees in worship. As our focus begins to narrow from the full narrative of the Nativity, I pray you see Joseph in a way that invites every one of us into this Greatest Story Ever Told. God has put down His pen, but He is still writing His story in and through the lives of each of His children. Oh, come let us adore Him.


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