I FOSTERED GOD’S SON (Matthew 1:18-25).
I am Joseph of Nazareth. I was a carpenter. I build wheels, carts, and wagons. I tried to lead a just and true life. I had little time to start my own family. And I was not bold enough to ask a lady to be my wife. But there was this little girl that would visit me. Some times, her folks would send her with some work for me to do and some times she just hung around and watched me work and asked all sorts of questions. Quite often, I would suggest that she play with companions her own age, but she did not feel they met her interest. It did not seem very long that Mary grew into a beautiful woman. She was still young, but exciting and enticing. She even dared to tease me, off and on. Some of it was a bit too adult. Still, it did not make sense to me that she might be a possible mate. Who in his right mind would marry me? I was wrong. This lovely young woman had her parents approach me and offered their daughter, if I were of a mind to marry her. I certainly was and entered an agreement with her and her folks.
For some reason, we delayed our wedding date, and my lovely Mary began to look suspicious. There was something different about her. She looked like she had been with a man, only it was not with me. And I began to sense that others knew it too. I was in a real predicament and I was trying to free myself of the marriage contract secretly. In no way was I going to expose my intended shamefully. So, I began to think of ways how I could distance myself from a woman that carried another man’s child. One night, I was dreaming about an angel telling me not to leave my bride. It was not her doing, but the work of the Lord’s Spirit. He had planned it a long time ago to have a virgin bear a God-child that would be called “Jesus” and “Savior,” and that I was to foster that child as my own because I was of the house of David. In Him, God would be with us and the throne of David would be restored. The dream was real and urgent. I awakened a new man with a new mission. The Lord had appointed me foster father over His Son. This was awesome and a great honor, but also a great responsibility! The thing that the dream did not tell me was what it entailed to be a foster parent. I soon learned that fathering was much easier than fostering and that no father should be a father without fostering. It takes minutes to father a child, but it takes half a lifetime to raise a child and that is fostering.
The Romans had a hand in making certain that my foster-son was born in my ancestor’s town of Bethlehem. I was a descendant of David and I was ordered to return to Bethlehem with Mary to be counted for tax purposes. The journey was strenuous on my wife who was about to deliver and Bethlehem was over crowded. The gracious innkeeper let us stay in a stable and a manger became our son’s first earthly habitat. Shepherds dropped in with welcome messages from angels and rich strangers from the East showered the baby with gifts. Even a star brightened the heavens. We celebrated and rejoiced over our “Miracle Son.” Only Mary and I knew who He was. We learned that the strangers from the East had been to Jerusalem and upset Herod the king who regarded any descendant of David as a rival. We had barely dedicated our son to the Lord when I had another dream. An angel urged us to flee to Egypt immediately, for Herod was on his way to kill all male children under two years. The joy and peace that the angels announced our son would bring, turned into pain and sorrow. It was hard for us to grasp that so many babies had to die to save our Son. It did not occur, to me, at that time that my foster Son would save the world.
Herod did not live long. His sin caught up with him and the Lord put him away. The others who had plotted with the false Edomite king had also died. For the third time, the angel of the Lord informed me, in a dream, that it was safe to return to Judah. Upon our return, we learned that Herod’s son could search us out. Another warning from the Lord urged us to return to Nazareth in Galilee where I resumed my carpenter trade. And that is where I tried to be a father to Jesus and to more sons and daughters. I neglected to tell you that I was a religious man and believed in the promises of the Lord. I also believed that I was caring and providing for the future Messiah of Israel. I made certain that all our children took religious training. Annually we went to Jerusalem to observe Passover, the Day of Deliverance from slavery. Now we were anticipating another deliverance from Roman tyranny.
Jesus was an exceptional child. He was alert beyond His years. His insight and interest in sacred things puzzled us. When He was twelve, He stayed behind in the temple and asked question of our wisest in Israel. Those were the only three days that He gave us concern. And it was on that occasion, that He let us know, that He had to be about His real Father’s business. Nevertheless, He was a very obedient Son. He gained the respect of all of us and made me proud of being His foster father. I know that God shall reward me for having been a foster parent. Foster fathers are special to God!