We don’t really know a lot about Joseph through the scriptures, but we can draw several conclusions based on what we do know. The one simple thing that stands out to me is the name “Joseph”. I don’t think anything, especially having to do with the life of Jesus Christ, is by chance. Joseph’s name was not by chance. This was the man who would raise a perfect son. He would be the fatherly example to the one who would be the perfect example.
Just for fun, lets check out all the other Josephs we know. The pattern we see will show us that the name Joseph is kind of a big deal. As we think, maybe it will be even more obvious how great a man he must have been simply because God gave him a name was destined to be so meaningful.
Joseph #1.Probably the Joseph after which most other subsequent Josephs are named. Was one of the 12 sons of Jacob, or Israel. He was sold into Egypt by his own brothers as a slave and, as the story goes, won over the heart of the Pharaoh, received visions from God warning of the 7 years of plenty and of famine, and basically saved or brought salvation to Egypt, and in turn, his whole family, the covenant family of Israel, from certain death. A branch of this Joseph’s lineage also happened to be a group led by Lehi, and Nephi, who were the first authors of a book called the Book of Mormon. Not too shabby at all.
Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea. This Joseph is just briefly mentioned in scripture as well, but what a privilege he had. He provided the tomb for the Savior after he was crucified. He acted against his peers and almost all the contemporaries around him, and provided a safe place for the body of the Lord. It was from his tomb, that the Savior would emerge in his resurrected glorified form. It was from his tomb, that the gift of immortality for all men would be realized. It was from his tomb that the realization of eternal life could be possible! It was from his tomb, that salvation came in the form of the glorified resurrected Lord!
Joseph #3Joseph Smith Sr. was responsible for raising the future prophet that would restore the complete gospel of Jesus Christ in the last dispensation. He instilled in his son, and his whole family, the values, and lessons that gave a young 14 year old boy the understanding that he could go to a grove of trees and ask the questions that would eventually change the world. As an added bonus, he was also the first patriarch of the restored church.
Joseph #4One of the beneficiaries of the amazing Joseph Smith Sr. was his son, Joseph Smith Jr. This Joseph grew to be the great prophet of the restoration. He received more by way of revelation, and prophetic writings than any other prophet. Ever. He saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. Through this Joseph, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored, which provides the necessary ordinances that brings salvation to all men.
Joseph #5All of these Josephs are amazing, they make up an elite All-Time All-Joseph team. So, is it any wonder, that the final Joseph, the Joseph that raised Jesus, the humble carpenter, also carries that name? Our Father in Heaven would not leave his son in the care of an ordinary man. He needed a humble, righteous, obedient, and loving man. He needed a man that would, quite literally, fill his own role in an earthly sense. He needed a man who would teach and raise the only begotten Son of God as if he were his own. He needed a man in whom he would entrust the Savior of the world. He needed a man, who would be humble enough to accept his calling, even though the boy he would raise, knew at a very early age, who his real Father was. Joseph was that man. So, even though we learn precious little about Joseph the man who raised Jesus, we can imagine that he may be one of the greatest men to ever walk on earth, because God the Father trusted him, and only him, to care for his little boy, the Savior of us all!
So, whats in a name? A lot. when we pause and think about the intricate symphony that our Father in Heaven is directing, it is evident. Every name has meaning, every note is where its meant to be, every moment, every place, every event is just as its meant to be. The name Joseph, by itself, is an honor. Lets think about that great man a little more this Christmas, and give him his place among the greatest Josephs of all time!
P.S. Other Josephs that that were also awesome but for this list earned “honorable mentions” include Joseph (brother of Nephi), Joseph Fielding Smith, Joseph F. Smith, and the apostles Joseph F. Merrill (1931), and Joseph B. Worthlin (1986). As a side note, it is interesting that since the restoration of the gospel in 1830, 3 of the 16 presidents of the church have been named Joseph.