Jesus, Joseph’s generous hands

This is the first draft on ‘Joseph,’ published on 9 December. (Here is where to sign up for the series) http://www.stewardship.org.uk/special-articles/advent-wonder

Why did the Lord God choose Joseph as Jesus earthly father? Joseph’s words are absent from the gospels.  He is not at home when the Magi come with their gifts for the child Jesus. How is he part of Advent wonder?

Joseph, as a carpenter, was a natural craftsman. He worked with the grain and shape of different woods; he planned and designed objects. He created what he saw and felt from his insides, from his heart and mind, into tangible objects a person could touch, could feel.  He saw Mary, a young girl, and planned, a family, a home; a shared life. As David’s linear descendant he had a reputation, a family history. A Family history that was important, that shaped him; a deep past and future to be shared. And then he finds his design shattered. Mary is with child, and not by him.

Time for ‘Plan b.’

 Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 1:19

Joseph was faithful, and yet he devises a quiet divorce.

 ‘But…’

But then God spoke; He intervenes. The Godly man Joesph, the man who was working with the law as with the grains of wood, heard from another builder, another designer:

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife…She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (20-21)

 God spoke through an Angel in a dream and Joseph tore down one home and built another. He built a life as Mary’s husband and Saviour’s our father. He put aside his plans, his design, and his desires and faithfully built what God told him to build, to craft: a family and a Saviour’s hands.

This is the new design, the wonder- the Lord uses Joseph’s gifts to build a fully human Saviour God, Jesus.

Salvation, our salvation, is crafted with human hands.

How?

 Jesus uses his hands to seek and save. Jesus heals the man born blind with spittle and dirt that he rubs in blind man’s eyes; the woman with bleeding discharge touches Jesus with her hands for healing; He feeds the five thousand and the disciples by breaking bread. He uses his hands over and over in healing, in calling people. He was a carpenter’s son with a carpenter’s hands. Hands that eventually stretched out on a wooden cross, generous hands, because he will save his people from their sins.  Jesus learned from his earthly father, Joseph. He learned from a practical man who laboured with loving hands. Jesus crafts our salvation with his very human hands.

 Today, reflect: what do I have in my hands?

The web published bit is below:

Joseph is a model of the quiet, ever present, unspoken yet reliable wonder that is not immediately recognised in life. His words are never recorded in the Gospels. We may not see him, but we do see what he builds. As a carpenter, he worked with the grain and shape of different woods; he planned and designed. He saw Mary, a young girl, and planned a family; a home; a shared life. As David’s linear descendant he brought with him a family history that shaped him; a deep past and future to be shared. And then he finds his design shattered. Mary is with child, and not by him.

Time for Plan B.

 Faithful, reliable Joseph plans a quiet divorce (Matthew 1:19).  But then his plans are interrupted by another builder, who changes the design:

 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife…She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1: 20-21)

   

God intervened through an Angel in a dream and Joseph’s plans were redrawn. Instead of following his own plan, he built a life as Mary’s husband and our Saviour’s father.

 Here is the wonder – that the Lord used Joseph’s obedience and his skills to build a fully human Saviour God: Jesus.  God’s son, raised and taught by human hands.

How?

Having watched and learned from his earthly father, Joseph – a practical man who laboured with loving hands – we see Jesus using his hands time and again to heal, and to save. He heals the man born blind with spittle and dirt that he rubs in blind man’s eyes; he reaches out a hand to save a drowning Peter, he feeds the five thousand and the disciples by breaking bread. He was a carpenter’s son with a carpenter’s hands: generous hands that eventually stretched out on a wooden cross to save his people from their sins.

 Jesus crafts our salvation with his very human hands which he learned to use from a humble, quiet, earthly father: Joseph, a skilled carpenter with generous hands   

First: think about what’s in your hands. What skills do you have? What talents have you been blessed with? How are you using them generously for God’s glory? Spend some time writing about your activities – might there be some room to change, grow or redirect your efforts?

   

Second: What do your designs look like? And are you open for God to redraw them? Change and obedience are two words we often avoid, because they uproot us from a place of comfort. How might your giving be radically different if you allowed God to interrupt it?
Comments on how these drafts build and worked are welcomed. Please consider leaving a ‘skilled’ comment from you generous heart below: 

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