Small Talk

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

(Isaiah 7:14b, NIV)

Jesus stood at the doorway of Joseph’s workshop. He was six years old, covered in dust and full of questions. As usual.



“What does it mean?”

“What does what mean?”

Joseph had learned that the best way to answer this boy’s questions was with another question. It gave him time to think.

“To become,” Jesus said. “What does it mean?”

“Well, let’s see” Joseph said, grateful for small talk—for a question that wouldn’t require sending Jesus to the rabbis again for an answer. He lifted Jesus onto his workbench, so they could see one another eye-to-eye. “To become,” he said, “means to change into something new—something that wasn’t before. A seed becomes a flower. A child becomes a man.”

Jesus nodded slowly. “Does God change?” He asked.

And there it was—something in the tone of voice. Something in His eyes, and the tilt of His head.

Joseph had thought he was on safe ground with this question—that, at least he could confirm what he suspected Jesus already knew.

“No,” he said, though it sounded more like a question than he had intended. More like “No?” as if to say, “that’s right, isn’t it?”

Jesus frowned.

“Wait,” Joseph said. “Let me think.” He wished Mary hadn’t gone to visit her cousins down south. She had such a command of the Scriptures. He didn’t understand this boy and had no idea how to answer. So, he folded his arms and lifted his chin in the manner of the rabbis when they needed to appear wise in the face of a perplexing question: “What do the prophets tell us, Jesus? You know.”

Joseph saw the slightest lifting at the corners of Jesus’s mouth.

“Prophet Isaiah said the virgin would conceive and give birth to a son, and would call Him Immanuel. God with us.”

Joseph nodded. Slowly. “And you are …”

Because Joseph understood more than he knew.

The smile returned to the boy’s face. “I am,” He said.