Summary: Lessons from the life of Jesus’ stepfather Joseph. How we can learn to become a person God can trust.
When you own something of great value you want to make sure it is kept in trustworthy hands. You want your money to be with a bank you can trust. If you own stock, you want the stock to be in a trustworthy company. As any owners of Enron stock recently learned; It’s risky to be the stockholder in a company whose leadership you can’t trust. What if you are God and you want to redeem the human race and in fact to redeem all of creation? To do so, You plan to send the second member of the Godhead into the world, the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The event of Jesus Christ coming into the world is what we celebrate every Christmas. But remember, when God came into the world, he came as a baby. A baby who had to be fed, and had to be burped, and had to be changed, and had to be nurtured and had to be raised from childhood, through adolescence, to adulthood. So who, in all of the world, would have the monumental honor and the unique task of parenting the Son of God. Jesus Christ was left in the hands of someone God could trust.
In his infinite wisdom God chose a young engaged couple named Joseph and Mary. Much has been written and much has been said about Mary. But this morning I want to focus on the adopted father of the Son of God, Joseph. I believe Almighty God chose Joseph because he was a man who the Lord knew He could trust. Through his life we can learn how to become a person God can trust. The Scripture tells us very little about Joseph but it tells us enough to see why he was considered trustworthy. This morning let’s read God’s Word beginning in Matthew chapter 1, verse 18.
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 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.
When Almighty God, the creator and possessors of all things, came to earth, He left the riches of Heaven to become a man. More than anyone who ever lived, Jesus realized that earth was not His real home. He was simply a pilgrim, a sojourner, on the great mission of redemption. He didn’t come to acquire financial fortunes, luxurious mansions, or earthly empires. In fact, it seems he possessed little but with it He accomplished the greatest work. So much of what he used to fulfil His Heavenly Father’s purpose, he accomplished with items that He borrowed.
He borrowed the stable he was born in
He borrowed the manger he was laid in
He borrowed a boat from which he preached to the crowds
He borrowed a boy’s lunch with which He fed the 5,000
He borrowed the donkey on which he rode into Jerusalem
He borrowed the tomb in he was buried
In fact, he even borrowed the father who raised Him.
Joseph was a borrowed father.
Look at verse 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. This is an amazingly brief explanation for such a miraculous event. Maybe because the miracle of Christmas is beyond human comprehension. A young virgin girl supernaturally conceived a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. The girl’s name was Mary. She was not the daughter of an affluent Jerusalem socialite but was a simple peasant girl from a village in Galilee. God had come to her and invited her to become the human instrument through which He would bring His Son into the world. Mary was quick to trust God and submit to His will (Luke 1:26-38, 45). At the time she was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth. In Jewish customs betrothal was similar to being engaged but was much more significant. There were actually two stages to the Hebrew marriage. First there was the betrothal and then the marriage. Typically the couples families would arrange the marriage. A contract was made and sealed by the payment of a dowry, paid by the groom or the groom’s family for the bride. The dowry was compensation to the father for wedding expenses and insurance for the bride in case the groom later divorced her. The contract was immediately binding and the couple was considered legally married, thought it may be a year later before the ceremony and consummation of the marriage. It was a time of probation and a testing of the couple’s fidelity. Infidelity during the betrothal period was considered adultery. In the Jewish law the penalty for adultery was stoning (Lev 20:10; Deut. 21:23-24; Ezek 16:38,40; John 8:5). Although at this point in Jewish history stoning was not normally enforced, it was grounds for breaking off the betrothal and if by the bride, a returning of the dowry.