Foster Fathers

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.

– Luke 1:26-27 (AKJV)

Why was it necessary for Mary to conceive while she was betrothed to Joseph and cause a scandal that hasn’t ended among the Jews even today? (Jesus was called Joseph’s son in Matthew 13:55, Luke 3:23, 4:22, and John 1:45, 6:24.)

On the one hand, God did not chose an already married couple, for Jesus had to be conceived of a virgin to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. On the other hand, God didn’t think it good for Jesus to be born to a single mother, so it was necessary for Jesus to have a human father in his earthly family.

But still, Joseph was no more than a foster father to Jesus. His role as parent doesn’t seem very prominent, and he mysteriously fades out of the story after Jesus’ childhood. I wonder how he felt about the whole thing?

Jesus’ real father was in heaven, and that is the one he focused on. He spent much time with his heavenly Father and lived to please Him. The only record of Jesus speaking to Joseph is “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). That must have hurt. Jesus didn’t seem to acknowledge Joseph’s and Mary’s distress in their three day search for him. I wonder if Joseph just had enough and left after that? (…very probably not.)

But Joseph’s situation wasn’t totally unique. When we’re saved, we become God’s children, adopted into His family. God does not become our foster father but our real Father. That puts our earthly parents into the same secondary role as Mary and Joseph: foster parents. While we are to love and obey our earthly mothers and fathers, our first love is to God: the Father and the Son:

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…

– Matthew 10:37 (ESV)

…that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

– John 5:23 (ESV)

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