Eventually, an angel told Joseph it was clear to leave Egypt and to return to Israel. I wonder how Joseph felt. I wonder if he wanted to return or whether the past was a bad and painful memory – one that he hoped would just go away and be lost behind a new life in Egypt. Whatever his thoughts, he obeyed the angel and set out for his homeland – Israel.
The day arrived when they would leave their temporary lodgings and set out for their new adventure. Where would they live? What would they do? Where would they find new friends? Which synagogue would they attend? All the usual questions people face when shifting from one place to another. It would appear from the passage that Joseph had intended to return to Bethlehem – where Jesus was born – their ancestral home.
However, when He learned that Herod’s son, Archelaus, had assumed the Herodian throne, he wisely chose to go Galilee – as far away as he could from the influence of that family. So Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned to Nazareth, and Joseph returned to his normal employment in order to provide for his family.
Being a Christian is not necessarily easy. Neither does it require you to pretend things are different than they are. God has given us a brain and He expects us to use it. Sometimes He expects us to move away from danger. Even in the Lord’s prayer Jesus said, “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”
God does not expect to have to provide for us supernaturally all the time. Once the Hebrews had entered the Promised Land, the Manna stopped. Yes, there is a time when God will and does protect us supernaturally, however, most of the time, He expects us to use our talents and our creativity to provide the necessary income for our survival. Nevertheless, God has promised to be our Provider – how He does that is up to Him, but normally it is through our job and position at work.
The next era in the family history seems to be very boring in the light of what went before, however, it was not a time when nothing happened. The family grew in more ways than one. Jesus grew up and began working with Joseph, learning the trade and mastering the tools of the trade. He learned obedience to his parents, discipline in education and employment. He learned the Torah off by heart, like his peers.
The family also grew by the addition of siblings – James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude together with his sisters. Quite a family. All that time, Jesus, being the eldest, would have had responsibilities, and Joseph would have taught Him many things.
It’s very hard for us to put ourselves back into that situation where the Creator God – Eternal Word – became flesh and dwelt among us. It’s hard trying to get our minds around the humanity of Jesus, isn’t it? I wonder how Joseph managed. Did he expect Jesus to know everything, and so find himself checking every word so it didn’t seem condescending? Or did he go about life, just like you and me, allowing Jesus to copy what he did? (The things he did right anyway!)