Summary: This is a Father’s Day sermon using Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, as an example. It is alliterated and PowerPoint is available. I can also give you a link to a great video clip, just e-mail me.
FATHER’S DAY: JOSPEH
Scott Bayles, pastor
First Christian Church, Rosiclare, IL
Well, let me start out today by saying “Happy Father’s Day” to all of our Dads. One little boy, when asked to explain about Father’s Day, said, “It’s just like Mother’s Day, only you don’t spend as much on the present.”
That’s a joke, of course, but really, Father’s Day never seems to be as big a deal as Mother’s Day, does it? On Mother’s Day there is a higher attendance at church, mothers often have corsages, emotions run high, and people gather at Mom’s house—all to pay honor to the hands that rocked the cradle.
But on Father’s Day the church is not as full, emotions are not as high, and businesses don’t profit nearly as much—all except for the telephone companies, that is. You see, phone companies report that Mother’s Day is the busiest telephone day of the year. But Father’s Day is a bigger money-maker for them, because there are more collect calls on Father’s Day than on any other day of the year.
As you may or may not know, the very first national celebration of Father’s Day was on June 19, 1924, by proclamation of President Calvin Coolidge. But it all came about because of the efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd.
Sonora was sitting in church in 1909 listening to a Mother’s Day sermon when the idea of Father’s Day first came to mind. Having been raised by her father after her mother’s death, Sonora wanted her father to know how special he was to her for all his parental sacrifices and for being, in her eyes, so courageous, selfless, and loving. To make a long story short, twenty-five years later, through her efforts President Coolidge designated the 3rd Sunday of June as “Father’s Day.” And our nation has been celebrating it ever since.
I’m glad there is a Father’s Day (not just because I’m a dad myself). Even though it may not be as significant or special as Mother’s Day, it still gives us a chance to honor those who stand at the helm, who gather their team in a huddle, and who lead their family through life’s battles. And, since my Mother’s Day message last month focused on Mary the mother of Jesus, I thought it would only be appropriate for us to take a thoughtful look at Joseph, the step-father of Jesus, for Father’s Day.
The cast of characters associated with the story of Jesus’ birth is colorful and memorable. We often recognize them by their unique speaking parts. With dramatic words, the Angels take center stage to announce the birth of the Savior. They appear to Joseph to announce that the name of the child would be Jesus. The angel Gabriel makes the unforgettable announcement to Mary. And an angelic choir interrupts the shepherds, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Mary, whose divine selection humbles her, offers a beautiful hymn of praise and thankfulness in Luke 1:46-48. The wise men are desperate in their search to find the newborn King and prepared to present Him with gifts of honor and worship. The shepherds became early evangelists—telling everyone they saw about the newborn Messiah.
Oddly enough, only Joseph has no speaking part. He is the lone silent member of the cast and often forgotten. Angels bring heavenly greetings. Mary sings a praiseful solo. Wise men worship. Shepherds preach. Joseph is silent. No notable lines are attributed to him. No sound bites. No quotes. Only silence. However, as people sometimes say—actions speak louder than words! Joseph is irreplaceable in the story of Jesus’ birth and through his silent actions, Joseph teaches us three valuable lessons in fatherhood. The first lesson is a lesson in righteousness.
We are introduced to Joseph in the middle of a personal crisis. Having become engaged to a beautiful young girl, he has worked hard to establish an income to support his new bride and begin a family. He’s in love. He’s committed to Mary. He believed she loved him—that is, until he hears the news that his precious bride is pregnant.
Heart-broken and betrayed, how should he respond? Should he publicly shame her? Should he turn her over to the authorities to be stoned to death? Her explanation of the pregnancy was unbelievable, even blasphemous. If Mary hadn’t been stoned on the charge of adultery, she could have been stoned on the charge of serious blasphemy. However, Joseph chooses the path of mercy. The Bible says, “And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly” (Matthew 1:19 NASB).
Before any divine explanation, Joseph chooses kindness and discretion. No malice. No explosion. Certainly he could have asked a lot of questions here: “How could you do this to me? Who’s the father?” But, no words are recorded, only tenderness. He might be the talk of Nazareth. Friends might make snide comments. But he would not hurt Mary, no matter what he thought she had done to him. When he could have demanded a bitter sentence, he chose grace and mercy. Another translation says, “Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly” (NLT). The key to being a good father is first being a good man!