18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
We so often talk about Mary as a godly woman, an example of virtue, faith and obedience. Perhaps because Joseph was Jesus’ stepfather, he seems to be neglected when we examine the Christmas story.
If I was to be honest with all of you, I never really thought about Joseph until now. While working on this message, I discovered that, Joseph never spoke. There was not a single word recorded in the Bible that Joseph spoke. All we know is that an angel appeared to him, spoke to him, and all that Joseph did was to listen and obey.
Of course we can all say…after all that has happen, Joseph had to have said something? But nothing was ever recorded. Not even out of anger or doubt. (How is this possible Mary? How could you do this Mary?) Nothing…not a single word was recorded.
How do you think Joseph took the news of Mary’s pregnancy? Just to give you a short background. Back in those days marriage was pre-arranged. This marriage was likely arranged when Joseph and Mary were little kids! A legal contract would be signed with the details put in writing! They grew up knowing who they would marry and didn’t question it (divorce rate low then!)
During their engagement period, which normally lasted about a year. Now they were allowed to spend time together and start getting to know each other (taught to learn to love each other! (not fall in love) Love is a choice, a decision, a commitment! (Eph. 5 God commands men to love their wives…a decision, a command from God, not just a feeling)
Joke: little boy said, I hope a pretty girl moves into the neighborhood on my side of the street! Someone asked, why your side? cuz someday, Ill want to get married and momma won’t let me cross the street!”
Oh yeah… in their time, Mary would have been considered an adulterer. Being engaged is the same as being married already. Look at the passage, In verse 18 it said, “Mary was betrothed to Joseph”. (Engaged) Then on verse 19, “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly”. ( Put her away secretly, in another translation, was to divorce her) So... Being engaged in those days were the same as already being married, without the being intimate part.
According to the Law. Mary would be an adulterer, as judgement, she needs to be stoned to death. Keep in mind that Joseph was a just man. Which means that, he was obedient to Gods commands. God knew what Joseph must have been feeling at this time. Confusion was already starting to build up inside Joseph. That is why on verse 20, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”.
Joseph could not allow Mary to get hurt, he already loved her, Joseph was committed to her. That is how serious being, engaged/married, was to Joseph. Joseph loved Mary, Joseph loved the Lord and was obedient to His command to take Mary as his wife. It may not have been easy for Joseph, but he obeyed, and believed in the Lords command.
Joseph’s decision was to do what was right no matter the cost, to do God’s will even in the face of criticism, even if it we’re misunderstood or falsely judged! Joseph stayed by Mary’s side…made the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Why? To do the will of God!
Joseph gave the world an example of a godly man. Again…no matter what the cost. He obeyed Gods will. God helps us to be the, man/woman, that can stand for what is right. A creature that stands for the truth, stands for Jesus. Men and women, who will try their hardest not to bend for what is wrong, who will not compromise to do evil.
Joseph, believed in what the angel of the Lord told him in a dream. He had faith in God, in Mary, that she is still virtuous and pure, despite the fact that his eyes told him differently every time he looked at Mary. Joseph knew with all his heart, that Mary was his wife. And that soon, through Mary God will give the world the greatest gift ever... our Lord Jesus.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
God created Joseph to be a man of faith. God created Mary to be a woman of faith. Literally, I mean the “Author and Perfecter of our faith is in her belly”. Until this day, God has not stopped in making men and women of faith. Just like Joseph, we have to believe in what God has to say, regardless of what our eyes can see.
Let’s continue with the story of Joseph… Joseph listened to Gods command in a dream. God again would speak to him in dream.
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt.
Could you imagine, Mary being awakened that evening. “Mary wake up, we have to go, gather what we have, we must leave, you and the Baby are in danger!” Still…Joseph did just as the Lord had commanded. Do you see how much Joseph loved the Lord, Loved Mary, he didn’t waste any time, didn’t even wait till morning. Joseph was not going to let anything happen to his wife, and Baby Jesus. Remember what I had said earlier, that nothing was recorded of Joseph speaking. Look at the verse, even through the panic, Joseph said not a word. “When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt”.
Let’s continue, another dream…
19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.
Three times, God spoke to Joseph in a dream. Not a single word was recorded out Joseph’s mouth. He did not question God, he did not argue with anyone, Joseph obeyed each and every command, which lead to the safety of his wife Mary, and Baby Jesus.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
It must have been hard for a “just man” like Joseph to face his parents, his hometown where everybody knows each other, that his betrothed wife was pregnant. Too travel a great distance in order to protect his wife, and the Baby. He may have been ridiculed by his family, disowned maybe, received gossip from his hometown. But it did not matter to Joseph, he just obeyed, without saying a word. For a mortal man, Joseph showed what it takes to love. He was a “just man”, he loved his wife, and most of all loved God.
I can’t really add anything more to the life of Joseph, nor do I want to. Just like Joseph, being obedient to God comes with consequence from others. (Family, friends, the world) Working on this message was the first time that I really got to meet the man Joseph. Before this, I only knew Joseph as Jesus stepdad, and that he was a carpenter. Nothing about the real Joseph, and what he went through, because of obedience.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for sharing the “Christmas For Joseph”with us this afternoon. Church, what about you? Have you exchanged your reputation for righteousness? Have you sold out to God? Thats what it means to become a Christian, to give your very self to the only one who can save you from sin and selfishness, to surrender your sin in exchange for forgiveness and a life of adventure and trial, but complete with great blessing as you follow the God who loves you so much. This Christmas please remember the greatest gift of all, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
As the year 2017 comes to a close, I hope that the life of Joseph has opened your eyes, your heart, as it did mine. Joseph was a man of virtue and purity. A Man of compassion and tenderness. A Man of unwavering faith in God. Joseph was an example of obedience, love, and faithfulness.
In the end, Joseph went down in history as the man who raised the Son of God. What a privilege! Maybe, one day…in heaven, we can sit down with Joseph, and ask him how it was to be a father to a God?
Pastor Richard Santos
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