Summary: There are three points to this sermon. 1. God gives courage to ordinary people. 2. God gives us courage to overcome our doubts and fears. 3. God gives us courage to face the future.
(This sermon is a re-working of “The Nativity Story: The Courage of Joseph” by C. Raymond van Pletsen. I used some of the same wording and illustrations but changed the outline and applications. I only spoke of movies I had seen and since I am not a sports fan changed the ending.)
Christmas Courage: The Story of Joseph
It was not until I saw the movie World Trade Center that I realized how courageous the rescuers were in the days following 9-11. The movie is about a team of rescuers who are searching for survivors in the rubble of the twin towers. The rescuers search through the rubble risking their own lives – they are men of courage – because at any moment the tangled mass of steal and concrete may collapse on them. The movie focuses in on one team of rescuers as they risk life and limb to save two firemen who were trapped in the collapse of the towers. The movie depicts the danger of the situation. The movie shows the risks of everyone involved. But the movie also shows the courage that everyone displays under life treating conditions.
There is a story of courage that took place at the first Christmas. We often miss it because our focus in on a young mother and a baby. But the character I want us to focus on this morning was in the story too. He heard first hand that his bride to be was pregnant and it was not his child. He experienced a personal message from God because of the extraordinary event. He stood by the manger where the baby was laid. He provided protection for the mother and child during the early years of the child’s life. The man’s name of course is Joseph.
What can we learn from him?
"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. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 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. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ’Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ’God with us.’ Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus."
Matthew 1:18-25 (NKJV)
1. God gives courage to ORDINARY PEOPLE.
In the midst of the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus, we find an ordinary man by the name of Joseph. Many of us don’t view biblical characters as ordinary – do we? Many times we attribute to them almost super-human powers. But folks that is not the case. They were people just like you and me. They had problems – fears – doubts – worries – just like you and I – yet God is able to us them. In fact that is a major theme of the Bible.
God uses ordinary people to do EXTRODINARY THINGS.
Look at how Paul states this fact in 1 Corinthians.
"Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of ’the brightest and the best’ among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies"? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God." 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (MSG)
Joseph was an ordinary man – but He was a man God could trust to be strong in the midst of crisis. He was strong and resilient enough to protect his family. Matthew says it this way – “He was a just man.” In other words he was man of honor. Did he have concerns? – Yes, but he was a man, as the scriptures tell us, that was “just”.
"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. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly."