Silent Joseph

We are blessed with words from those who were so closely connected to the birth of Jesus. Zacharias said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited us and accomplished redemption for his people.” Mary said, “For the Mighty One has done great things for me.” Elizabeth said, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” The shepherds said, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” Simeon said, “For my eyes have seen your salvation.” The magi asked, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” We have no specific words from Anna, but we are told that she began “giving thanks to God and continued to speak” of the Christ.

Not a word do we have from Joseph. When Jesus’ parents found the twelve year old in the Temple engaging the teachers, it was Mary who chided him, not Joseph. We feel certain that Joseph talked, but we do not know. We believe the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. We must take it that the Holy Spirit had nothing to reveal to us regarding the words of Joseph.

Ah! But look what the Holy Spirit was pleased to reveal through Joseph. Joseph took the miraculously pregnant Mary as his wife. He had no relations with her until the child was born. He took her on an arduous journey to Bethlehem for he was unwilling to relinquish her care to anyone else. He was there for the birth of the Savior. He obeyed the summons of God and hustled his young family away to Egypt, safely avoiding the murderous Herod. He waited patiently for the summons to return. He brought his family back to Nazareth in safety. He attended to his father’s role for the growth of the child. He was there when Jesus could not be found and he searched until the boy was found. He brought them all safely back to Nazareth again.

When Jesus began his ministry around thirty years of age, his mother is still around, but we do not see Joseph. Some think that Joseph died in that span of Jesus’ life from twelve to thirty. But we don’t know. As quietly as he came, Joseph left. Not one word. But, oh, what a life!

Joseph was there, where he needed to be, doing what he was appointed to do, caring for what God cared for, not shirking but embracing hard things. Maybe this is where James, the brother of Jesus, got the idea for “be ye doers of the word and not hearers only.” Maybe James learned his wisdom at the feet of Joseph who taught him that God had given him two ears and one mouth, and therefore “everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak.” (James 1:19f) Perhaps it was the quiet Joseph who taught his boy James that a loose tongue is like a hellish fire (James 3:1f) and that genuine faith is proved by loving deeds. (James 2:14f)

Words are important. Very important. Too important to expend so carelessly as we often do. Silent Joseph stands right at the heart of the advent of the Savior. Far from diminishing his role, the lack of words make his deeds shine the brighter and by his life the Holy Spirit convicts us when we are long on words and short on deeds.

Silent Joseph. I can almost hear him. Can you?