Our Bible study class used Tony Cartledge’s lesson material in Nurturing Faith for our Sunday study. Cartledge titled the lesson “The Invisible Man.” We spent time talking about the marriage customs of the day, the visit of the angel, and the response of Joseph. After some discussion, we concluded that Joseph played a very important role in the support of Mary and the nurture of Jesus. Although the Gospels are clear that he was not the biological father of Jesus, he was his legal father under Jewish law, his nurturing parent, and—in many ways—his spiritual mentor.
The application that emerged from that discussion is that many men today may not be the biological fathers of the children they nurture but they are the only fathers that some children will ever know. Step-father, grandfather, uncle, or father figure by default, they perform an important function for the children in their lives.
The ideal continues to be a two-parent supportive family unit, but this is rare today.
According to the statistics in Cartledge’s lesson, less than half (46 percent) of U. S. children today live in “traditional” families.
Many of us have found ourselves called upon to step in when either a male or female figure is missing in the life of a child. Perhaps, like Joseph, we should see this as a call from God to make a difference in one life. Joseph may have been invisible in many ways, but he was also indispensable to one particular mother and her child.