Where the Hell was Joseph?

By Steve Austin | faith

Mar 25

The question bothers me every single year.

I know the question of where Joseph was isn’t nearly as important as the rest of the story that Friday, but as a Daddy, it drives me crazy…the not knowing.

So I sent that question to multiple friends this morning via text and here are the responses:

  • “Men are wimps.”
  • “He may have had to work 2nd shift during the documentary.”
  • “Dead?  IDK never thought about that.”
  • “You mean Mary’s baby’s daddy?  I often wonder that too…”
  • “It was Friday, a workday.  He was a carpenter, so making crosses?”
  • “It’s odd that he’s not mentioned.  He’s not mentioned anywhere after the birth of Christ.  Add that to the bucket list of things to ask when we get there.”
  • “He got tired of all the angels showing up at weird hours.  He got a room at the local Motel 6.”
  • “Joseph gets a lot of publicity at Christmas; not much at Easter.”
  • “Men can’t take the heat.”
  • “Maybe he was a loser Dad….he must not have been…Jesus turned out pretty good!!!”
  • “Some think he had already died before the crucifixion.  Proof that bad things happen to good people, even favored people, even God’s son’s people.”
  • “He was kickin some back bc his kid got killed.”

I have some brilliant friends, some sick friends, some hilarious friends, and some friends with thoughts that pierce my heart. 

Maybe the question of where Joseph was isn’t as important as where I would have been on that day.  Would I have been “the Disciple that Jesus loved”?  Would I have been the one entrusted with the care of the mother of the Son of God?  Would I have been hiding?  One friend said, “…an annunciation sounds cool when you read about it, but it’s a real drag when you’re actually there.  One gets tired of cowering and averting one’s eyes.” 

Maybe the question of “where would I have been?” isn’t even as important as another question: What do I do with the information I have now?

I wasn’t there.

Neither were you.

We weren’t witnesses to the facts.  We didn’t see him hanging there.  We didn’t hear his groanings.  We didn’t see the trail of blood down the Via Dolorosa.  We didn’t hear the cracks of the whip and we didn’t feel the earthquake or shudder at the sounds of lightning and thunder.

We weren’t there for the murder of Jesus Christ, but we are recipients of the very same Grace as those who were there, even those who participated in His crucifixion, received.

The fact is Jesus Christ did die on a Cross a couple thousand years ago.  He died for me.  The most important question to me is what now?


Now that I know His grace is willing to cover my messiness, what am I going to do about it?

Will I still run and hide from it?  Is it still too humiliating?  Is it still too uncomfortable?  Too…unbelievable?  Is it still too messy for me?  I’m certainly not too messy for him.

I don’t know where Joseph was, but where do I find myself?

Hiding outside the walls?

Weeping at the Cross?

Running away from Golgotha?

Running towards Jesus?

It’s Good Friday.  The day the world stopped turning. 

I can’t imagine what His best friends must have been thinking that day.  I can’t comprehend what His Momma was experiencing that Friday.  I don’t know where Joseph was.

I doubt any of them would have called it a “good” day, but the joy that has come from it, the freedom that I now walk in, the Comforter that has come now to be with us–to be with me as I woke up that day in a hospital bed–the forgiveness we have all been granted because of the Hell that Jesus went through, the mercy we have received, the grace we are bathed in because of His suffering: it makes it one very Good Friday for me.

Thank You, Jesus, for loving me.  Thank You, God, for loving us enough to let Him go.

*Photo Credit: Adrian Moran


About the Author

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.

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  • Deborah Bray says:

    The consensus is that Joseph had died, otherwise he would certainly have been at least mentioned and most probably present at at least a few of these events in the life of his Son, his family, and his nation. Tradition is that Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was martyred during the “slaughter of the innocents” the night the magi visited the holy family in Bethlehem (which would have been February 23, 4 B.C.). The soldiers not only killed the male children in Bethlehem, but also “in the coasts” which means in the surrounding areas as well. John the Baptist would have been 6 months old, and his birth, and the miracles surrounding his birth, would have been known, possibly well known even among the Temple priests. Tradition says that when the soldiers came seeking John, Elizabeth was able to hide with him and afterward she fled to the wilderness where John grew up. The soldiers came to the Temple where Zacharias was on duty and when he refused to divulge where the child was, he was run through with a sword and died. But we only have that information from tradition outside the Scripture, but nothing about Joseph which leads historians to conclude that he must have already passed away.

    • Steve Austin says:

      Deborah,This is SUPER interesting! Thank you for sharing all this insight! Does this come from the works of Josephus or other reading? I’m so fascinated by history, but never know where to begin reading.

      Thanks again,

  • “I don’t know where Joseph was, but where do I find myself?” Love this. Really enjoyed this piece, friend!

  • Great post to get us thinking. My mind went to an old and beloved hymn, Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord) See below:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgYj_eTDAT8
    Thanks, Steve and God Bless you and yours!

  • uoprincess says:

    A wonderful read on this Easter weekend! Love the blog and sentiments, Steve.

  • A // W // F says:

    I honestly didn’t think about this much before your post; thank you for asking the question.
    Just another possible theory: maybe he just couldn’t bear to watch.

    Which sounds cowardly, but I don’t think it has to be. When my great grandmother had a catastrophic stroke and lingered for a few days before passing on, I chose not to visit her in the hospital. I know some family members probably didn’t understand that, but it just felt right to me. Grandma was never conscious, and never would be again — she didn’t need me there. What’s more, I really wanted to remember her the way she was before: happy and big-voiced and vivacious with her red curls and scarlet lipstick and flowered dresses. I figured she’d want me to think of her that way, too.

    Who knows? Maybe Joseph felt similarly, and was a little more deep-hearted and emotionally sensitive than we like to give men credit for… I suppose it’s just a mystery.

    Thank you for giving me reason to ponder a little this morning. It’s good.

    Happy Easter to you friend! 🙂

    • Steve Austin says:

      Totally get that sentiment. I did the same thing with my Grandfather and my Great-Grandmother. Makes a lot of sense.
      Happy Easter back to YOU, friend!

  • Bernadette Blair says:

    As one who attended Parochial School beginning in the mid-40s, we were taught the traditional (not biblical, but oral) story that Joseph died before Jesus set out upon His Ministry.

  • Colleen says:

    I love that you get very quickly to where you would have been on that day. Because isn’t that the only reason to wonder where Joseph was in the first place? We’re either looking to learn what to do from the people in the Bible, or what not to do.
    Was he someone to emulate or someone to learn what mistakes not to make from? So, it doesn’t really matter what he was or wasn’t doing. There is no story about him, so nothing to learn. Move on to those who did leave us a story as an example or a warning.

    Thank you for sharing.


  • […] Where the Hell was Joseph? […]

  • Neil Norlund says:

    Hi, Steve.
    Here’s my take on Joseph’s lack of presence at Jesus’ crucifixion:

    Based on Matthew 1:19, we get a sense that Joseph was responsible yet compassionate. We’re not really given many other clues to his character. He was willing to listen to God’s messengers in dreams and act accordingly (Matt. 1:20, Matt. 2:13-23 for example). Luke 2:43 suggests that Joseph was still around when the family returned home after the Passover festival in Jerusalem. That’s the last suggestion of Joseph I can find in the New Testament. In the story of Jesus’ first miracle in John 2, only Mary is listed in attendance (along with Jesus and his disciples). She comes to Jesus, not Joseph, when the wine runs out. This suggests to me that Jesus, as the oldest son, has taken the leadership position in their home because Joseph is no longer around. So, based on this tantalizing but inconclusive set of details, I believe that Joseph was dead before Jesus began his active ministry, so he wouldn’t have been able to attend his son’s execution. Based on the character snippets we see in the Gospels, I believe that if Joseph were alive, he would have been there. I relate more with Peter myself–the blustering coward!

    All of this is good–it makes me contemplate once again the events surrounding the Grace that I’ve been so freely and undeservedly given. Thanks for sharing and stirring the pot.

    Happy (belated) Resurrection Sunday!

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