Was Joseph, husband of Mary, the example of a perfect man?

The Birth of Jesus Foretold Luke 1:26-38:

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.
37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

What does it mean to be a husband? What does it mean to be a man?

In my mind one of the great, if not the greatest of, men in the New Testament was Joseph of Nazareth. Joseph was a craftsman, an older man, who was given a task that few men of his time would have be able to endure. For you see Joseph was chosen by God to become the husband of the Virgin Mary. Joseph was tasked with the duty to raise the Son of God. Joseph was the corporeal father of Jesus Christ.

According to 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.

Joseph is the unique example of a man thrust into circumstances that few, if any, men of his time could understand or even survive. Joseph was tasked to be the man to raise the Son of God in the most most difficult time in history, the Roman occupation of Israel.

Today, husbands and men are under siege by forces that want to destroy the bedrock of every culture, the family. Forces bent on destroying the ideas and ideals of fatherhood, husbandry and manly faithfulness to one’s wife and children.

According to the American Psychological Association:

In Western cultures, more than 90 percent of people marry by age 50. Healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems. However, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.

It is important to understand what being a husband really means should be by looking at the challenges that faced by Joseph.

First, Joseph was betrothed to Mary. Joseph then learns that Mary is pregnant before he and she were married. In the time of Joseph women who were betrothed and became pregnant were stoned to death. Marrying an already pregnant woman before his marriage was consumated would have been against Joseph’s Jewish beliefs. Marrying Mary would be against all that Joseph was raised to believe in. It would have challenged his manhood. It would change his life forever.

Was Joseph the perfect man?

Joseph was the right man, in the right place at the right time. He was betrothed to Mary, the woman who would become pregnant with the Son of God.

In the Catholic Church Joseph is the Patron Saint of unborn children, fathers, immigrants, workers, employment, explorer, pilgrims, traveler, carpenters, engineers, realtors, against doubt and hesitation, and of a happy death according to Wikipedia.

Joseph is first mentioned in the New Testament in Luke 2:4,  “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.”

While Joseph was not wealthy he was devout. He lived in Nazareth in Galilee. He was a man who worked hard as a craftsman, who most probably  worked in stone, as there was little wood in the Middle East.

Then Joseph was given a task like no other. Amy Peeler wrote:

Joseph, husband of Mary, plays a dramatic role in Jesus’s early life. However, he is rarely mentioned and often disappears from view. Who is this often under-appreciated figure, and why is he important?

Peeler notes:

Mary’s prospects would have been tenuous, if not outright dangerous if Joseph had abandoned Mary. In order to see that, readers need to understand some of the norms of marriage in the first century CE.

[ … ]

In the interim time, Mary became pregnant. Upon discovering this, Joseph was within his rights to expose the pregnancy publicly and decry his involvement. Based on Deut 22:21, Mary could have been stoned, but there are no records that the full extent of this law was executed in the first century. The more common option would be to shame her publicly, to bring her before the town council.

Joseph chose to be the husband of Mary and to raise her son, the Son of God.

God spoke to Joseph on four occasions

According to the New Testament an angel from God spoke to Joseph, the husband of Mary. What would any man do if an angel spoke to him? Ignore it? Deny it? Embrace it?

Here are the four passages where God spoke to Joseph through an angel. According to Biography:

After marrying Mary, Joseph found that she was already pregnant, and being “a just man and unwilling to put her to shame” (Matt. 1:19), he decided to divorce her quietly, knowing that if he did so publicly, she could be stoned to death. An angel, however, came to Joseph and told him that the child Mary carried was the son of God and was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so Joseph kept Mary as his wife.

After Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, an angel came to Joseph again, this time to warn him and Mary about King Herod of Judaea and the violence he would bring down upon the child. Joseph then fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, and the angel appeared again, telling Joseph that Herod had died and instructing him to return to the Holy Land.

We do not know what happened to Joseph. Biography says this:

The circumstances of Joseph’s death are not known, but it is likely that he died before Jesus’s ministry began, and it is implied that he was dead before the Crucifixion (John 19:26-27).

Was Joseph the perfect man? Should all men try to become like Joseph? Do we need to restore manhood in America? You decide.

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