7586 - The Parents of Jesus

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Today we will take a look at the background of the family of Jesus, primarily Mary and Joseph.

We have been studying through the book of Luke for the past few weeks, and to give us some better understanding of Jesus and his earthly family, we will look at what we know about Mary and Joseph.

From Luke 1:27-28 we can see that Mary was a young girl, a virgin, and was probably in her early to late teen years. Not much is known with certainty about Mary before the time the angel Gabriel appeared to her, but we do know one thing for sure, Mary had found favor with God. We may not be able to determine how Mary had favor with God, but we know she was a very special young woman.

One thing to bear in mind though, some have sought to exemplify Mary as sinless in some way, they have put forth an idea of this “immaculate conception” of Mary, and have tried to say she was born without sin, and died without sin. This idea is not supported biblically, and should not be given any further consideration. The Bible tells us very clearly that everyone except Jesus has sinned.

Mary was a woman. She sinned as we have, but in some way the Lord saw her as being special, and blessed her with the privilege of being the earthly mother of Jesus.

What we know of Joseph is even less than what we know of Mary. We read in Matthew and Mark that Joseph was a carpenter. Or really in Greek, we see that Joseph is a tekton, which is probably a carpenter, but refers generally to someone who labors with his hands.

We know from the genealogies of Matthew and Luke that Joseph was a descendent of King David, and Matthew tells us that he was a righteous man. We do not hear anything more about Joseph past the account in Luke chapter 2 of the visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve. Many conjecture that Joseph died before Jesus entered into public ministry.

This is deducted from Joseph’s absence from the account of the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee in John 2, and also because he is not mentioned to be with Mary in connection with the scenes of the crucifixion in any of the gospels. We do however see in Matthew 27:56 that Jesus’ brother Joseph appears at the crucifixion.

Lets consider this mention of Jesus’ brother for a moment.

Many believe that Mary remained a virgin through her life, but when looking at the several accounts in scripture it appears quiet evident that Joseph and Mary had several children together after Jesus was born. Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 tell us his brothers were James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, and that Jesus had several sisters as well. We may of course use the more accurate terms of half-brothers and half-sisters, because while they all shared the same mother, Mary, Jesus’ father was God, thus making them half-siblings.

Therefore the idea that Mary and Joseph lived together as husband and wife without consummating their marriage is preposterous and would have been unheard of.

One thing that is very clear is that Joseph and Mary were not married when Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Luke is very clear that Mary was a virgin, and remained one until the birth of Jesus.

Joseph loved Mary dearly; we can see that when we read the account in Matthew. Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, probably because he saw that she was pregnant, or more likely we speculate because Mary told him she was pregnant.

He loved Mary so much that he did not want to disgrace Mary with a very public and harsh divorce proceeding. One that would have resulted in severe social or physical judgment and consequences. Instead he opted to divorce her as quietly as he could. But before he could do so an angel appeared to him in a dream.

Joseph was given very clear revelation and instruction in this dream. He not only was completely assured of Mary’s purity, but was also given direction in what her son was to be and do.

Joseph and Mary were both told what this amazing baby would do in life, and both were given directions to name him Jesus, which means God saves. So as we continue through our study of Luke, remember the context of Jesus’ earthly family, but let us not forget that the real reason of our study of scripture is to understand God more fully, and to grow closer to him.