As I approached Scripture early this morning, I asked myself a question for which I already had an answer: What were Joseph and Mary doing after the birth of Jesus? They were, of course, taking care of their infant son–which—as you may have experienced—is a bit of a scary endeavor, particularly if you are on your own—far from family as was the case with this couple. They had the Word-become-flesh to take care of. And—they had the words of God to heed as well. As I prepared for work today—a day in which many were remaining home to continue their Christmas celebration—I took comfort in the fact that Joseph and Mary did what they were supposed to do “the day after Christmas.” They took care of Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God. And they listened and obeyed the spoken and written Word of God.
From Luke (NIV)
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
From Matthew (NIV)
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
From Luke (NIV)
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
Did you see the listening? Did you notice the obedience? By this point in the story, it should not surprise us to find this couple desiring to do the right thing. But why? Why were they committed to doing that which is right? Where did they learn to listen and obey? The answer to that question is the fuel for my parenting as I prepare to enter another year as a father to four children.
First, Joseph and Mary saw faith modeled. Second, they heard the law taught weekly. Third, they engaged in the annual celebrations of the faith. Home. Synagogue. Temple. The focus on the LORD began at home. On Sabbath they joined with the community of believers. And each year, the family gathered with the masses to worship (Lk. 2:41). Surely there is a modern-day application! Our focus on the LORD should begin in our family and should spread to the communion of saints and–ultimately–to the world.
How’s that for a lofty goal for the New Year?!
Joseph and Mary consistently did the right thing. May the same be said of me–of all of us!