But after [Joseph] 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, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 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)
As we embark on our study of the vocations of some of the principal players in the Christmas narrative, we stop first at Jesus’s earthly father, Joseph.
In Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55, we learn that Joseph worked as a “carpenter.” My concordance says the Greek word tektōn that we translate to “carpenter” can also be understood to mean “a craftsman” or “an artisan.” In other words, Joseph worked to create new things for others. And of course, per the custom of the time, Joseph’s children (including Jesus) would have worked alongside him.
Here’s what is most remarkable to me about Joseph’s vocation: God could have chosen for Jesus to grow up in anybody’s home. He could have placed Jesus in a priestly household like John the Baptist where he could have devoted his days to prayer. He could have chosen for Jesus to grow up in the home of a Pharisee like the Apostle Paul where he could have spent hours upon end studying the Scriptures. But instead, God placed Jesus in the household of a carpenter, where he would spend his days making things with his hands.
On the surface, that truth may appear shocking! But I would argue it’s the least surprising thing in the entire Christmas story. Why? Because the work of Jesus’s earthly father wasn’t all that different from the work of his heavenly one. “In the beginning, God created” (Genesis 1:1). In the beginning, God was productive. In the beginning, God worked.
Work isn’t beneath the God of the Bible. It is an essential part of who he is and who we are as his image-bearers (see Genesis 1:27-28). Believer: The work you do today isn’t secular or secondary. It is good and God-like. So do it in line with his character—with excellence, love, sacrifice, justice, and beauty—as a response of worship today!