Echoes From the Campfire

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things–not the great occasions–give off the greatest glow of happiness.”
              –Bob Hope

    “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.”
              –Job 19:25 (NIV)
I was reading, I think it was Barna’s Report, where 33% of Millennials (that’s one-third folks) stated that “secret Santa” was too stressful.  The thought of it brought anxiety, stress, and tension to the work place.  Yet, now get this, 30% (almost the same number) of Millennials said that the boss/company/employer should take the place of “Santa” and provide the gifts.  Ponder that!  What happens to the wonder of giving?  Buying a present for someone else causes stress?  However, they still want their present–from the “boss.”  As if he should be required to give one.
    Monday I mentioned Mary and how she must have been a very mature young woman.  One who had tremendous faith and loved the Lord.  I want to look at Joseph.  If anyone were to have stress I think it would be him.  Think of it–he had the responsibility to raise the Son of God.  The job of training, educating, and discipling would fall to him.  
    We know little of Joseph except what is given in the Christmas story.  He was a just man.  He loved Mary.  He had to be a man of exceptional character if the heavenly Father was going to allow him the responsibility of raising His Son.  He was a carpenter (some today say a stone mason).  He went to Bethlehem for the taxation because he was of the lineage of David.  He was warned in a dream to flee, so he took Mary and the child to Egypt.  From there, the family eventually make it back to Nazareth.
    We have one more story concerning Joseph.  It was after the Feast of the Passover.  For some reason, Jesus stayed behind while Mary and Joseph and the others returned to Nazareth.  Think of the concern of Mary and Joseph.  Think of the consternation of Joseph–the charge left him by the Father was missing.  

         “After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day.  Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him, the were astonished.  His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.'”
                –Luke 2:43-48 (NIV)

Joseph had been given the awesome responsibility of taking care of Jesus–the Son of God.  He was missing.  Ponder for a minute what might have gone through the mind of Joseph.  (Oh, and a side-note, read verse 51, “…But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.)
    After this Joseph is never mentioned again.  Maybe this incident gave him a heart attack.  No?  I don’t think so either.  But I do believe that he died while Jesus was a very young man (manhood came at age 13).  Was Joseph possibly a Zealot?  For example, Quinctilius Varus crucified two thousand ringleaders, whose leader was Judas, in a revolt near Nazareth.  Nine years later, another Judas led a revolt in the same region.  Perhaps Joseph named two of his sons after the Maccabeus–Simon and Judas.  Scripture records that the brothers of Jesus, the sons of Joseph and Mary, were James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon.
    The region around Nazareth was a rough area, one that was prone to violence.  Did Joseph die in some type of violence?  Or was he a victim of a job accident or disease?  If he died while Jesus was a young man, that would be a legal and logical reason for Jesus not to enter His ministry until one of the other brothers was of age to take care of the family.
    Oh, such things to ponder.  One more little thought to leave you with.  “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man…” (Matthew 1:19, NIV).  This means that he was a man who followed the Law, but also indicates that he was a man who was completely open to all that God wanted to do for him.