Summary: The love Mary & Joseph had for each other, coupled with the love they had for God, culminates in one of the greatest love stories ever told - the story of Christmas.
Christmas: From Joseph’s Eyes
I’ve watched the Jerry Springer Show a few times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Jerry Springer junkie, but the few times I have seen the show has given me a pretty good idea of how that program operates. You bring people onto the show with really messed up lives. They’ve made a lot of mistakes. And often there is a person, a family member, who is innocent, and they have no idea what their spouse has been doing behind their back. And they get onto Jerry Springer’s show, and this innocent person gets this bomb dropped on them. We are left glued to our television sets asking ourselves, “what are they going to do about this shocking revelation?”
We have the same thing happen right here in our Bible this morning. A man is about to be married. And as most grooms-to-be are, we imagine he must have been pretty excited about his upcoming wedding. But then he gets the bomb dropped onto him: his fiancée is pregnant. And we are left staring at Joseph as if we are in the audience of the Jerry Springer show asking ourselves, “what is Joseph going to do about this?” If you were going to make a list of the great loving couples of history, who would be on your list? Romeo & Juliet? Anthony & Cleopatra? Napoleon & Josephine? Probably Mary & Joseph would not be on your list, for when we think of them we don’t normally think of them in that way because they’re usually on the sidelines, & the spotlight is on Jesus, where it should be.
But I think that if we examine the love of Mary & Joseph, we would realize it was a love that would stand the test of time. The love they had for each other, coupled with the love they had for God, culminates in one of the greatest love stories ever told - the story of Christmas.So this morning,we will hear Joseph’s Christmas story. You’ll find it in the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew, beginning in vs. 18. Matt1:18 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. 19 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. 20 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. 21 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." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. We learn much about Joseph and about God’s grace and faithfulness. So, today we look at Joseph & the love he had for Mary, & the greatest love story of all, the story of Christmas. Matthew begins very simply. He states: “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.” Now we need to understand that the Jewish marriage consisted of 3 stages. The first stage is the engagement. Usually that was set up by their parents. The 2 sets of parents would get together & talk things over. One would say to the other, "We would like to have your daughter marry our son." Her parents would reply, " That sounds like a good idea. Let’s discuss it." And these two sets of parents would arrange the engagement without the young people ever being involved.
ILL. One example of that in the O.T. was when Abraham sent his servant to his home country to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant found Rebekah & brought her back. Isaac had never seen her before. Then she became his wife.
The second stage of a Jewish marriage was called "Betrothal." During this time the young couple agreed to the marriage, signed a legal document, & were considered "husband & wife." But they didn’t live together yet. It was a time of building a relationship, of coming to know one another. It was a time of planning & dreaming & happy expectations. And this betrothal usually lasted about a year. And at this stage in Joseph’s story they were considered husband & wife, but they weren’t married yet, they were betrothed. Now notice that Matthew says, "Before they came together." There were no sexual relations during this time. According to the custom of the day, the actual wedding celebration would take place several months later, then they would begin their lives together as one flesh. Joseph planned to be a good husband. Most likely, he worked hard, saving what he could, preparing for his new life with Mary. All of a sudden, Mary drops a bomb on Joseph. Again, notice how matter-of-factly Matthew describes this uncomfortable situation: but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Talk about shock and disappointment! One could just imagine the conversation between Mary and Joseph. Maybe Mary said, “Joseph, dear, I have something I need to tell you. It’s really wonderful news … really. Uh, I’m, uh, going to have a baby. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but that’s not the case. This isn’t any ordinary baby. This is the Messiah whom we’ve been waiting for! Honest! An angel told me! Isn’t that wonderful? Aren’t you happy?”