Summary: Joseph is a righteous man. Even before he is put into a hard position with a pregnant fiancée he is a righteous man that wants to live his life as God instructs.
IN MATTHEW: JOSEPH
Lies. It had to be a lie. How could she be pregnant? What good would come of this? How could she put such a thing on God? What possible reason could she have for spinning a tale of an angel messenger and pregnancy and the Messiah? It was not something he had ever heard of before. Mary had never lied to him before and she was definitely not someone who told fanciful tales. He only had questions swirling in his heart and in his mind. Only heart-hurting questions. She had just told him something earlier that evening that had changed his world and it seemed quite fantastic. Fantastic meaning “hard-to-believe” and not fantastic as in “over-the-top joy.” She was pregnant and she said God had done this to her. Her baby would be the Messiah.
It was night time and the man sat on the edge of his bed and just rocked back and forth with a mix of nerves and anger and doubt. What was he supposed to do? What was he supposed to think? What would God want him to do? It was dark outside and seemed even darker in his room. He thought perhaps it might be best to send her into a neighboring region and allow her to live there for awhile. A quiet divorce. Nothing shameful. What was he supposed to do? What was he supposed to think? What would God want him to do? The darkness seemed to grow around him. His eyes grew heavy. His mind swam in mush as he craved sleep, but felt incredibly worried and his heart felt pressed.
READ MATTHEW 1:18-25
[Read Together Matthew 1:18-25 Responsive Reading Style]
LEADER: This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
CONGREGATION: Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
LEADER: But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
CONGREGATON: She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
LEADER: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
ALL: But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”
We looked at this same passage last week as we began our celebration of the Season of Advent. We focused our attention first on Jesus and rightfully so! Jesus Christ is the center of our hope and the center of what we celebrate at Christmas time and is the Savior of the World. As I read this passage I believe there is another significant person presented in this passage other than Jesus and His mother Mary. We find Joseph, the betrothed of Mary, in this passage and he is quite an individual based on what we find in the passage.
There is a lot about Joseph that we do not know because we do not know anything about his life other than what we read in Matthew 1-2 and in Luke 1-2. We do not know much about his family other than they come from Bethlehem and he is related to King David. As with all small towns, he was probably related to most people in the town of Bethlehem. We do not know about his education or age, but we do know he was a carpenter by trade and he taught that trade to at least one of his sons after he had a family. We do know that after Jesus, Joseph and Mary had four boys and at least two girls as part of their family. Joseph disappears from the Bible after Jesus is around 12 years of age.
We do not know a lot about Joseph, but what we do know about Joseph of Bethlehem is more about his character than about the numbers or details of his life.
I. A MAN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Verse 19 in Matthew 1 tells us that he was a “righteous man.” I think that is pretty high praise for someone we know little about. Who else in Scripture is described with this word “righteous?”