Summary: Don't drop the ball; provide loving leadership.
Christmas Through the Eyes of a Man
Rev. Brian Bill
Two weeks ago, Steve Johnson, a receiver for the Buffalo Bills, inexplicably dropped what would’ve been a game-winning 40-yard easy touchdown catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. After dropping it, he sat despondently in the back of the end zone before a teammate picked him up. After the game, a teary-eyed Johnson talked about how he was feeling: “I’ll never get over it. Ever. It comes down to one play and you drop the ball. You’re a receiver. You don’t drop the ball. I won’t get over it.”
However, Johnson wasn’t done venting. A couple hours later, this is what he “tweeted” on Twitter: “I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO...”
This morning I want to suggest that we can be like Johnson and blame God or we can be like Joseph and believe God. Last week we looked at Christmas through the eyes of Mary and discovered that while we can’t always control our immediate reaction, we can and must control our ultimate response. We can do that because nothing is impossible with God. And today we want to focus on how Joseph viewed Christmas. By the way, much of this message will be directed to men but it will also apply to everyone in some way.
Are you aware that men and women are different? Here are some advantages to being a man…
* The garage is all yours
* Wedding plans take care of themselves
* Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat
* The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades
* You only have to shave your face and neck
* You can play with toys all your life
* You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24th in 25 minutes or less
What We Know About Joe
While there are certainly some pluses to being a man, some men have a mess of problems as well. Here are some things we know about Joe.
* He was a carpenter/stone mason.
* He was from Nazareth. A disciple named Nathanael said these words in John 1:46: “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
* He was poor.
* His lineage was under a curse. While he was related to King David, one of his relatives really messed things up for him. In Jeremiah 36 we read of a wicked king named Jehoiakim who when confronted with Scripture, decided to burn the scroll written by the prophet Jeremiah. As a result, verse 30 states: “…He will have no one to sit on the throne of David.” His name carried with it some shame.
Joseph had a lot of things going against him. He could easily have blamed God for a job that didn’t generate much money, for living in a town that had a bad reputation, for being poor, and for coming from a family that had a fruitcake in it.
But he didn’t do that. He accepted what he had and was OK with what he didn’t have. Joseph was probably not too worried about his wedding plans to Mary because she was taking care of the details for that special day and he was building them a house. They were in the middle of their engagement period. Actually, it was called their betrothal, a one-year period of time that was as legally binding as marriage, though they didn’t live together. The purpose of this extended engagement time was to make sure that they were both faithful to each other and pure before God. Any sexual immorality would be severely punished and would be immediate grounds for divorce. This was a happy time, filled with dreaming and planning and building.
In verse 18, Joseph almost drops the ball as his plans bounce out of his hands and onto the ground: “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.” How could this be? Joseph knew he wasn’t the father so Mary must have been unfaithful to him. Have you ever had your dream turn into a nightmare?
Would you notice that Matthew 1:19 says that Joseph was a “righteous man”? He was no doubt hurt and angry but even in his pain; he reacted in a godly way. Actually, Joseph reacted to this news in a way that reflected his character and his growing relationship with God.
Last week in our small group we talked about how easy it is to react to bad news or difficulties in a way that is not appropriate. We then discussed that as we mature in our walk with Christ our reactions can change and become more God glorifying as we grow. This is certainly the case with Joseph.