Where’s Joseph? Often, so far in the background, he’s not even in the frame.
But Joseph is every bit as central to this story as is Mary.
It is because he is the son of Joseph that Jesus is counted Son of David. But if we are to verify his ancestry, then Joseph must be shown to be a true son of David, centuries after the Davidic royal house has provided a ruler for God’s people.
The coronation psalm composed for the Davidic line has God declare, “Today I have declared you are my son.” The king is God’s son, by adoption. And adoption is no second-best to a conceived son. An adopted son is a son, with the full rights of any son. Indeed, this God is insistent that the widow and the orphan be cared for. David himself marries widows, and adopts the sole surviving heir of Saul’s family. In adopting Jesus, Joseph takes him as his own. God adopted David’s family line; and when God in turn was in need of adoption, in Joseph, David’s family line holds true to the covenant made between God and his offspring and David and his descendants.
David wanted to build a house, a home on earth, a resting-place for God. God’s response was that this was not what he asked of David, but that his son would build the temple. Solomon is charged with building God’s first home. Joseph, the builder, is charged with creating a home for God-made-flesh, a shelter, both physically and relationally.
This humble builder is a true heir of the humble shepherd-boy, a king among men, recognised not by men – who look on the outside - but by God – who looks at the heart.