Summary: Joseph, of the New Testament, encountered a new life when he and Mary became engaged. Little did he realize just what lay ahead for him when he started out on a "simple" journey of marriage.
DISTRESS DELAYED DELIGHT
This is the first of five special Christmas sermons dealing specifically with Joseph which I have titled: “Joining Joseph’s Journeys.”
Joseph, the most underrated man in the New Testament, deserves our careful attention. We often value Mary and rightly we should, but what would have happened to our faith if Joseph had kept to his first inclinations when he heard about Mary and her soon coming Baby? Needless to say, Christianity would not have reached its high heights as it has if there were no earthly dedicated male to fulfill the need of a father to our Lord and Saviour.
We can only imagine the trauma that Joseph experienced when Mary told him of her situation. Things that would not bother some men today were vitally important to Joseph and to his culture. How was he to deal with the situation with which he was confronted? We have read about the consternation he faced in the Bible, but can we really ever fully grasp the depth of his emotions during that time of his unsettledness? The answer is in the negative. We can never fully comprehend what he experienced when he was confronted with a situation that was completely out of his hands. The Scriptures give us only a small glimpse of his inner turmoil, but there is no complete way to grasp his dilemma at that most critical time of his young life. His heart was torn; his mind was unsettled; his emotions were raw; his future was put on hold; the love he had was being challenged; the society in which he lived was going to react in ways he could not fully predict; and, yet, he wanted to do what was right to Mary and to his God. He had no compass by which he could study to guide him through such troubled waters. The questions far outpaced any and all answers to the storms that swirled inside his heart and head.
Yet, in the midst of this quagmire, God came to him and showed him what to do. May Joseph forever be a lesson to us to emulate-to wait until the answer comes from God. According to the reading of the Scriptures the answer to his problem did not come as soon as he encountered the situation, but the answer did come-eventually and it came at the right time.
As I study this giant of faith in the New Testament, I see three things about him that are worth studying. The first thing I note is the terrible DREAD that he faced and feared. The next thing I see concerns his life changing DREAMS that finally showed him which way to go. Then, these two lead me to study the final sweet DELIGHTS that he experienced as he finally received his message from God on just what he had to do.
I. DREAD: Getting engaged, planning a wedding, trying to tie up all lose ends before the big day can be nerve wracking even for the groom. Somewhere from the time of the proposal to the wedding, some enter into a state of, “What on earth am I doing getting married?” For those who experience such misgivings, the awesomeness of what is about to happen can make anyone stop and take a hard look at one’s situation.
These feelings must come in all cultures and with all people. Even Joseph had the jitters concerning what he was about to undertake. Although the engagement and the actual wedding were different than today, Joseph was troubled about what he was to do after he had learned about Mary being with Child. In the days of our hero, once an engagement was announced, the couple could take up to a year to finalize the wedding itself. And, like a real marriage, the couple could come together for conjugal rights during the engagement period. Often the time spent between the engagement and the actual wedding, the young lady stayed at her father’s house while the husband-to-be would build a house for his new bride. On the day/night of the wedding, the young lady was make herself ready through out the day and then when night time settled over the area, the summons would be given by the groom and the lady would leave her father’s house, go to her husband’s home where the marriage feast would commence for seven to fourteen days. Every one was to be ready because when the summons was given, the bridal party would leave the bride’s home, and journey to the groom’s house. Once the wedding party entered the doors of the groom’s house, the doors were shut and the festivities would commence. It was during this time frame of engagement leading up to the marriage that Joseph was told about Mary and the Baby. Besides all else weighing on his mind, he now was faced with a terrible fact that his bride to be was with Child and it was not his. Welcome, MR. DREAD!!!