A tale of two Josephs: Joseph, Jesus's earthly father & Joseph of Arimathea

Updated: Jun 10

Open bible with text, "A Tale of Two Josephs"

Joseph: Jesus's Earthly Father

If you've heard the Christmas story about the birth of Jesus then you've heard about Joseph. He was the man engaged to be married to Mary when she became pregnant with the Messiah. Mary could have been stoned for her (perceived) indiscretion, but Joesph decided he would instead set her aside with a quiet divorce.


Then an angel came to him and explained that Mary wasn't crazy or unfaithful...indeed she was pregnant with the Messiah. Joseph and Mary continued as planned.

We hear quite a bit about Joseph through Jesus's birth and their dedication of Him at the temple. Then we hear more when an angel tells Joseph to take his family and escape to Egypt to avoid Jesus being killed by a raving maniac, Herod.

Fast forward to Jesus at 12 years old. He goes missing after a festival in Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph go find him. That's basically the last we hear about Joseph. Scholars agree that Joseph likely died some years later but before Jesus was 30 (when He began His ministry).

While Joseph was not Jesus's genetic father, he was His earthly father. He taught Jesus about taking care of a family, working hard, being a carpenter, treating others fairly, and serving God. While it seems strange to think of Joseph teaching GOD about these things, Jesus still needed to be raised as a tiny human.


Joseph: of Arimathea

Fast forward about twenty-one years. Jesus's earthly ministry is coming to an end. He's facing certain death. His earthly father is long gone. The religious leaders almost unanimously refuse to believe that Jesus is who He says He is. They conspire to kill him.

Jesus is "tried," found guilty, and hung on a cross.

After the soldiers confirm that Jesus is dead, a man comes forward and asks for His body.

That man is Joseph of Arimathea. He is reported to be rich, and a "good and just man." He was apparently a secret follower of Jesus. He boldly went to the Roman authorities, along with another secret believer, to anoint Jesus's body and put it in Joseph's own tomb for burial.


The Tale of Two Josephs

This tale of two Josephs struck me as strange this week. I've been praying over it a lot. I'm of the mind that with God there are no coincidences.

That means the fact that there was a Jesus to care for Jesus as he came into the world and a Joseph who cared for Jesus as he left this world is not chance.

I've been praying all week about what this means. Here's what I've come up with:

  • In the Hebrew, the name Joseph means "he increases." Certainly earthly-father-Joseph increased in stature (eventually) due to his relationship to Jesus; Joseph of Arimathea increased financially and in reputation, as reported by Mark and Luke.

  • Jesus's life was bookended by a man named Joseph. One was with him at the beginning and one at the very end (of his human life).

  • Both had times of secrets regarding Jesus. Earthly-father-Joseph secretly did not believe Mary really carried the Messiah and was apt to divorce her because of it. Joseph of Arimathea secretly believed Jesus WAS the Messiah but didn't feel he could openly admit it until after the crucifixion. When it mattered most, both men acknowledged Jesus for who He was.

  • The point I come to most often in my prayers this week is that Jesus probably derived some comfort from knowing that Joseph of Arimathea would be caring for his body so tenderly (after all, Jesus was all-knowing as a member of the Trinity). Thinking of that Joseph would certainly have brought back feelings of love for His earthly father. Surely that brought some measure of peace to Jesus.

Maybe this all means nothing. But I think it's fitting that God provided a Joseph to tend to Jesus's body just as he did a Joseph to care for Jesus's body when he was born. I'll be continuing to ponder and pray about the significance of this.


What does this mean for us?

That's all well and good, you might be thinking - but what does that have to do with us?

Here's MY takeaway. If nothing is a coincidence with God, and he planned such details as even providing a man named Joseph to comfort Jesus through reminding Him of His earthly father, then certainly God has planned every detail of our lives.

God knows what will happen, he knows the best plan, and He has lined up the right people for the right times. Our job is to simply trust Him. Sometimes our situation seems to be going awry but God always makes things work out in a way we could never anticipate - and generally BETTER than we could ever anticipate!

How has God unexpectedly shown up in YOUR life in a way that others might call a coincidence but you know it was the hand of God? Tell us below in the comments section (scroll to the very bottom).

With love,


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