Summary: An Advent series in which we look at what it means to Fear Not!
December 13, 2015
Fear can be a great motivator or it can suck the life out of us. Last week we started to look at 3 different events in the Christmas story where an angel came and said FEAR NOT!
Last week we saw the angel appear to Mary and we learned that sometimes when God calls us, we view the call as inconvenient interruptions, but God views them as invitations to something bigger and better.
Today, we’re going to see where an angel appeared to Joseph and look at the fear he would have experienced.
There are very few people who don’t care what others think of them. The reality is that, at one level or another, all of us are very concerned about what others think of us. Do you like the clothes I wear? Do you like my hairstyle? Do you think I’m funny? Am I smart enough? Am I attractive enough? Do I fit in? Do you like my Instagram selfie? And we become so easily obsessed with what others think of us.
Joseph was going to have to battle with what other people’s opinions were. He had to decide between what was socially acceptable and what God wanted him to do. Let me give you the context ~
Joseph was engaged to be married to a teenage virgin girl named Mary. The rules were different back then. Today, if you’re engaged, and things don’t work, you just break off the engagement.
In Mary and Joseph’s day, an engagement was a binding agreement. You would be engaged for 1 year, and if you wanted to break off the engagement, you actually had to file for divorce. The engagement was so serious that if one died, the other would be considered a widow. They took engagements seriously.
With that in mind, we pick up the story in Matthew 1:18 ~
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
Can you imagine the conversation Mary had with Joseph? Mary would tell Joseph to sit down and would say something like ~ “Sweetie, I need to tell you something. And before you say anything, I need you to hear me out and don’t jump to conclusions! I’m pregnant! And the good news is, it’s by the Holy Spirit!”
Can you imagine what’s swirling around in Joseph’s head? He’s thinking, how long did it take you to come up with this story? Don’t give me the Holy Spirit stuff – I saw the way that guy was checking you out at the well!
In Joseph’s eyes, either Mary was not pregnant, but crazy; or she is pregnant and she’s lying. Joseph had to decide if he stays with Mary, what will happen to him; and if he divorces her what will happen to him — and to her.
He’s marked for the rest of his life. If he’s the guy that got her pregnant, or she got pregnant with someone else, then, from that point on, he’s going to find it hard to find a job.
If he divorces her, what other father would want his daughter to marry him. Because the question is always going to remain . . . was Joseph the father?
He might find it difficult to get people to do business with him. He’s taking his donkey in for a tune up, and the people say, “Sorry, we don’t work on that kind of donkey here.” Because everybody’s going to know what was going on in his life.
Eventually, we learn Joseph is going to bail on the relationship. He’s done. He doesn’t believe her, and he’s thinking it’s best to get out of this.
Matthew told us ~ 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
Notice the Bible refers to Joseph as her husband, that’s the commitment that went along with being engaged. He’s jumping out of the relationship. He was trying to do the noble and honorable thing. He’s thinking I’m not going to expose her to public shame. I’m not going to say to everybody, “She cheated on me. Stone her.” He probably loves her and cares about her, and thinks, Maybe she can have this baby somewhere, and then start over. I’ll start over, and we’ll move on.
And he’s going to learn something from God. And it seems to me what he is learning is that when you listen and obey God, you’re probably going to disappoint people.
The next thing we learn comes in verses 20 and 21 ~
20 But as he considered these things,