“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11)
From The Second Half of the Cross
We clearly see in the life of Joseph the second half of the cross—the death of the self-in-charge nature, in favor of the plan of God for Joseph’s life. All Joseph started out to do was marry a lovely young woman in his hometown of Nazareth. None of us can truly grasp the magnitude and magnificence of the actual life that Joseph experienced. If Joseph could do it all over again, would he choose for himself a different, more normal life?
The plan of God for the life of Joseph was narrow and well-defined in the duties that God gave him to do, as briefly described above. Joseph does not live long enough to become a leader in the early Christian church. Joseph did not have the opportunity to leave us inspired writings like Peter, Paul, John, or his own son James. Joseph was not called by God to be a great evangelist after the death and resurrection of Jesus, with a unique perspective that only he could give.
But does anyone think that the degree of honor and gratitude that will be given to Joseph in heaven will be small? Like a lifelong faithful servant who performed his assigned duties well in the service of a great king, Joseph served the eternal Son of God in the role of a step-father from the birth of Jesus through sometime into the teens or possibly middle twenties of Jesus. Joseph after all taught Jesus, the Creator of the universe, simple carpentry. Joseph knows Jesus like few people can claim to know Him.
I believe that Joseph will cherish for all eternity the opportunity and responsibility that God the Father placed with him to protect and watch over the Son of God during His childhood, and that God’s unique plan for his life was and will be a source of immeasurable value to him. I believe that Joseph will be one of the most sought-after guest speakers in heaven, if there is such a thing, with his social calendar booked for eons, because of the special relationship he had with Jesus during the “silent years.”
One of the lessons that we can learn from the life of Joseph is that it was the will and plan of God that Jesus the Son of God stand alone to accomplish the great work of salvation on the cross. For reasons that will probably only be fully understood on the Day of Judgment and the final demise of evil, God knew that the task of presenting love to the universe by the example of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, could only rightly be done by Him alone. No human agents can appear to be aiding Jesus during the trial and crucifixion—not apostles, disciples, a mother, family members, or possibly even a faithful and courageous step-father. At basic issue was right and wrong, love and hate, goodness and evil. As Jesus hung in agony on the cross hour after hour, no one present there at the time knew that the most beautiful example of character in the history of mankind, or indeed for all eternity, was taking place.
Mary, on the other hand, is quite human in that she appears to have problems understanding the second half of the cross in the ministry of Jesus her son. No one can be any closer to this issue than Mary. Like all mothers, Mary wants to see her son Jesus succeed in life. Mary has good reason to be confident in the abilities of her son, because both she and Joseph know the true parentage of Jesus the Son of God.
Mary is therefore deeply shocked and staggered by the opposition shown from the powerful Pharisees, scribes, and rulers in Jerusalem toward her son’s ministry and message, people she would otherwise respect and admire. Mary probably had profound confusion over the disconnect between what she knew to be the true nature of the person and the abilities of her son Jesus, and the failure of the Jewish authorities to likewise recognize this and accept Jesus as the Messiah.
The official rejection of Jesus during His trial and crucifixion must have been heart wrenching. Mary was the only person alive at that time other than Jesus Himself, who knew about His conception, birth, and the extraordinary prophesies that were pronounced about Him by angels, shepherds, wise men, prophets, and the Old Testament scriptures. Being a woman in the first century Jewish patriarchal culture, if Mary had come forward and told all that she knew, few people would have believed her.
Like the rest of the apostles, Mary had to painfully wait for the unexpected Resurrection Day to be able to fully understand through hindsight that Jesus her son died on the cross as the sacrificial Passover Lamb of God. The long-awaited Messiah of Israel took away the sins of the world, in order to become the resurrection life that lifts us up out of death into a new spiritual life with God.