There are also several Josephs in the New Testament. This Joseph, the husband of Mary, the legal and foster-father of our Lord, draws not much attention to himself, but is in fact all together unique.
Joseph means “to increase,” and as used in a name it really is a prayer of a parent: “may He (God) add.” So the name “Joseph” is a pray for the Lord’s blessing. Many characters in the Bible have this name, among them the most well-known is probably the 11th son of Jacob (Israel), namely the Joseph who was sold by his brothers to Egypt but later become a rescue of the whole family.
1: Blessed is he whose name is associated with the Lord
We are saved by association with Jesus and acceptance of Him, the Son of God. In order for the salvation through His Son Jesus Christ to be brought to earth and fulfilled among His people, God uses people as vessels. Earthly eyes view this as if God needed help by people, but through a heavenly revelation we see that it is God’s love and mercy to give His Son to us manifest in flesh. God actually gave His Son to us, not merely as a spiritual principle, but in flesh. The Word became flesh. Ask Joseph and he will tell you what that means him.
Blessed is Joseph! He and Mary are the first to be associated with Jesus our Savior. Other godly people in the Old Testament had known, even intimately known, the Christ in spirit, but only Joseph and Mary knew Jesus in person.
2: Suffering for the Lord and suffering because of the Lord
But the Savior came to suffer, rather than in glory to claim His Kingdom as He would in His second coming, so also would those who are associated and identified with Him. Joseph would have enjoyed his life as many of his forefathers and kinsmen did, and perhaps even more, because he was a righteous man; but through the love and mercy of God Joseph entered into the suffering of the Son of God instead, long before all of us.
Imagine what Joseph had to go through because of Jesus. What perplexing, confusion, and public shame he must have bore to accept Mary who was with a child before marriage. But Joseph had received the secret revelation directly from a messenger of God, so he willingly entered into all the suffering. He had a vision and received the most wonderful truth, and he obeyed to the vision and the truth. This is not the same as merely being a good young man showing his good-will and making a sacrifice to the girl he loved. This is far more than that. Doing that would be moral, courageous and commendable but still just an earthly experience, while doing what Joseph did is all together Heavenly.
It is great to see a person being upright and righteous, but it is far greater if that person receives a heavenly vision and acts with faithfulness accordingly. That is what we desire to see among our youth as they grow up.
For Joseph, the suffering continued because of Jesus. What the Son of Man had to go through in His youth, His father in flesh also bore. How early was the blessed Jesus involved in troubles on the earth! His life and sufferings began together. “Many a time have they afflicted me, from my youth up.” (Psalm 129:1-2). The darkness on the earth followed and persecuted our Lord from His infancy. Joseph, as the legal and foster-father of our blessed Lord, was an inevitable part of that. Just when the Child was born, God’s angle warned Joseph the danger ahead. The wicked King Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
Having already been inflicted in bearing the shame because of the birth of the Child, Joseph might have expected that he had done his part, and now it’s time for God to return a favor, or at least to takeover the Child to give him a break. Even if God does not do him a special favor and offer him special help, there should, at the minimum, be some normalcy, nothing more than what it would take to raise an ordinary child. But now this – to face the darkest and curliest plot by a king because of the child?
We hear no complain by Joseph. He followed exactly what God told him to do and did all he could to protect the Child. God knows all the cruel projects and purposes of the enemies of His Son. God knows how to protect His Son, but He does that not without also accomplishing His will among the lives of those who are chosen. Blessed is Joseph who has suffered for, and with, the Son of God.
Joseph became a father of many children after Jesus. We can assume that he was a great father. But God did not allow him to witness the ministry of our Lord Jesus. Joseph’s name was never mentioned after the year when Jesus was 12 years old and the family went to Jerusalem to visit the Temple. We are all familiar with that story. We learn from the word of Mary that Joseph sought for the 12 year old Jesus with “sorrow,” and that was the last thing we hear from the Holy Spirit about Joseph.
We then consider the heavenly announcement made by our Lord concerning the instance: “Do you not know that I must mind my Father’s business?” From a human point of view, this should add to Joseph’s sorrow because in a sense his 12 year old son just publicly denounced him. But in spiritual reality, this is the glory of Joseph. God trusted His Son to Joseph when He was only a child. Now the Child has grown and turned His mind to His true Father, the Heavenly Father, to mind His true business. For Joseph, it was a job well done. God then asked him to rest from his responsibilities and received him into His glory in eternity. It is almost certain that Joseph died when Jesus was at a rather young age, and quite possibly soon after that instance.
We later learn that Mary and Jesus’ other brothers and sisters became concerned of Jesus because He seemed to have given Himself entirely to His ministry. Mary thus again sought for Jesus, this time thinking not that He was “lost,” but that He had lost His mind. Mary should recall what the Lord said when He was 12 years old: “Do you not know that I must mind my Father’s business?” But Joseph, who was already in glory with the Father, must have smiled in satisfaction watching all that was going on.