Why St. Joseph Had to Die Before Jesus

My good friend Jeff Kress told me about something he thought about one time, related to St. Joseph’s death. We can be sure from the Bible that St. Joseph had died before Jesus died, since on the cross Jesus entrusted his mother to his disciple John’s care–something he would not have done had St. Joseph been alive.

So why did St. Joseph die before Jesus did? Well, it’s simple yet profound. St. Joseph, as Guardian of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Custos), was charged with protecting Jesus by the Father, in addition to being his father in so many ways. If the Father had permitted St. Joseph to be alive during Jesus’ Passion, St. Joseph could not have stood by and watched Jesus be tortured and murdered. He would have fought like a lion to stop his torturers, even doing violence to them, and such an act was against St. Joseph’s makeup. I don’t know if it would have been sinful for him to protect Jesus, but the contradiction of being Jesus’ protector and foster-father and then being forced to sit idly by while his son was murdered would have been too much.

So the Father, in his perfect wisdom, willed that St. Joseph die peacefully, in Jesus and Mary’s arms before Jesus’ public ministry, rather than subject him to the unbearable horror of watching his son die, an act that had to happen for our poor souls’ salvation.

All hail the Lion of Judah!

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9 Responses to Why St. Joseph Had to Die Before Jesus

  1. Andrew says:

    Another reason why he died first was to convert the souls in Hades.

  2. Devman says:

    Good to hear from you, Andrew. I enjoy reading your blog each day!
    Hmmm, I hadn’t thought about St. Joseph converting the souls in Hades before. Did you read about that somewhere?

  3. buddy says:

    I have been trying to find out how Joseph the father of Jesus died.
    With no answer I have came to your site is the anyone that can give me a substantiated answer to this age old question. Just How did and at what age did Josseph die

  4. kayla says:

    i have been wondering as well
    specially since last week when I had a dream that St. Joseph was killed and his face was cut off so he would not be recognized
    what happened to Mary when Jesus was killed did she hide, were they after her as well
    did she ascend to Heaven soon after?

  5. Devman says:

    Kayla, what a horrible dream you had. :(

    Tradition (with a little ‘t’) and private revelation both say that St. Joseph died in the arms of Mary and Jesus, his beloved family.

    Mary was in the upper room with the disciples during Pentecost, and we know that St. John took her into his own home to care for her when Jesus died (because Jesus told him to from the Cross). Were the authorities after her? Probably less so than the apostles because 1) she was a woman, and 2) her mission on earth was largely over after Jesus had died for our sins and risen.

    No doubt she cared for the apostles as sons as she did when Jesus was with her on earth, and no doubt they loved her as a mother.

    One small correction to your comment: Mary did not “ascend” into Heaven, which is what Jesus did, by His own power. Rather she was “assumed” into Heaven, body and soul, at the moment of her death.

    It was God who chose to assume her into Heaven and who accomplished it. That is an important distinction to make, even though it may seem small.

    Finally, only by private revelation do we have any idea when Mary died, how old she was, etc.  I do not know the answer to that.

  6. groundhoggirl says:

    From what I recall of my 12 years in parochial education, one of the Dogmas (spell) of Catholicism is that Mary is the one and only human being who, by virtue of her being the Mother of the Son of God, did not have to suffer the pains of mortal death. She was assumed into heaven alive, healthy and kicking.

  7. Brandon says:

    I stumbled on your blog trying to find out where a television show I was watching came up with the idea that Joseph had died before Christ. Looking at your blog, I see a lot of comments from you and others alike that aren’t supported by the scriptures. Firstly, where does the Bible refer to Joseph as a Saint? Secondly, where does the Bible say that the father willed that Joseph should die or did die, for that matter? Thirdly, where does the Bible say you can be converted in the afterlife? Lastly, where does the Bible say Mary was assumed to Heaven? I think before answering Bible questions on the Internet for the entire world to see, you should consider or maybe read the Bible.

  8. Devman says:

    Brandon,

    Welcome to the blog. Firstly, the best evidence from Scripture that St. Joseph died before Jesus is the simple fact that St. Joseph does not appear during Jesus’ public ministry, as well as the telling fact that Jesus gives His mother into the care of St. John at the cross. If St. Joseph were alive, it would be absurd for Jesus to have done this. So you can see that this argument is quite harmonious with the Scriptures.

    The Bible refers to people following Christ as saints. St. Joseph followed Christ, so even ignoring how the word “saint” has been used throughout 2,000 years of the Church, Joseph is rightly called a saint. Would you deny that? Are you a saint and he is not?

    I said that the Father willed that St. Joseph die peacefully. We are all going to die, something that the Father allows to happen (one could say it’s his passive will), but in allowing St. Joseph to die before Jesus’ Passion, He saved him from a violent death that likely would have occurred as St. Joseph fought to protect his foster-son, the Son of God. This is a speculation and not a dogma or even a doctrine of the Catholic Church. It’s enjoyable on blogs to speculate about such things.

    Regarding the comment made that St. Joseph worked to convert the souls in Hades, again this is not a dogma or a doctrine but a pious speculation, and taken as such is fine and can be argued for or against. Before Christ opened the gates of Heaven, Sheol/Hades in the afterlife is not well-understood. We get the small glimpse in Luke’s gospel of the story of Lazarus going to “Abraham’s bosom” and the rich man going to a place of punishment or purification (unclear which), but that is all. We also have the interesting passage in 1 Peter 4:6.

    The Bible does not explicitly say that Mary was assumed into Heaven, though something similar seems to have happened to Enoch and Elijah, so there is even a pre-Christ precedent for it.

    Brandon, the assumption behind your arguments is that the (sixty-six book) Bible alone is the sole source of revelation. But where does it say that in the Bible (chapter and verse please)? Where does it say in the Bible that there are sixty-six books in the Bible, and which ones those are? How do we know the “table of contents” of the Bible? Who discerned that the Bible should have sixty-six books in it as your Bible does, or seventy-three as mine does (the Catholic one), or seventy-five as the Orthodox Bible does?

  9. Vinny says:

    Everyone talking abut when and how Joseph died is really not relevent. We all know from scripture that Joseph did marry Mary, He raised Jesus at least until Jesus was 12 years old. To protect Jesus and Mary from harm he moved from place to place. Does it really make a difference when and how he died. Based on what we do know he was a very saintly person and therefore, should be considered a saint and the patron saint of families.