The last mention of Joseph in Luke’s Gospel is a telling one. It summarizes the whole point of Joseph’s presence in the story. The story God is telling isn’t about him, but he’s a part of God’s providential purpose to save the world. We read:
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed ) the son of Joseph […]Luke 3:23
Then begins Luke’s genealogy from Jesus back to Adam, the son of God (Lk. 3:38). Joseph raised Jesus, took him to the synagogue twice each week like the just man that he was, trained his supposed son in the trade of carpentry, brought him along to the religious festivals (Lk. 2:42), and then exits the story.
Joseph has links to three OT characters. First, his namesake, Joseph. God spoke to both men through dreams. God used these men to bring about His salvation of Israel. It is striking that in Matthew’s account of Christ’s nativity, Joseph is told explicitly that Jesus was going to save His people from their sin (Mt. 1:21). God had once saved the eleven patriarchs from their sin because of a dreaming Joseph who obeyed the Lord. Now, God would save Israel from its sin again, but this time through the presumed son of another dreaming Joseph.
The second character alluded to is King Ahaz. He was king in the prophet Isaiah’s day. When asked to pick a sign to assure him that Isaiah’s prophecy of deliverance would come true, he hems and haws. He doesn’t respond to the prophecy in faith, but with unbelieving indifference. It is in this story (cf. Is. 7) in which the prophecy of a virgin being with child is given (Is. 7:14). Ahaz was a son of David who was indifferent to the great messianic promise given to his forefather David. But with Joseph, we have a son of David (more on that in a second) who acts with the swift obedience of pious faith in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Mt. 1:22-23).
The third is mighty David. Matthew and Luke both go out of their way to show that Joseph was a lawful heir to David’s throne (Mt. 1:20, Lk. 1:27, 2:4, 11, 3:31). The house of David had been promised that one day a king would sit on the throne of David and would reign over Israel forever (1 Kg. 2:4). In the time of Joseph the heir of David’s throne was a humble carpenter, just beginning his career (thus his initial poverty, although carpenters were an esteemed, respectable, and even lucrative profession), in a fairly unimportant town.
Again, Joseph is what we all ought to be. Willing tools of the Lord’s redemptive purposes. Joseph, though heir to David’s throne, was not angling to be the Savior. But He gladly yielded to be used by God in His Salvation work. One other striking tid-bit, Joseph has no recorded dialogue in Scripture. But there he remains, the embodiment of a willing servant of the Lord. He wasn’t the fulfillment of the Davidic promise, but he did his level best to serve the Lord’s work in fulfilling that promise. As one commentator1Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000. put it:
The golden cup of prophecy which Isaiah had placed empty on the Holy Table, waiting for the time of the end, was now full filled, up to its brim, with the new wine of the Kingdom.Alfred Edersheim
|↑1||Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000.|