Summary: One can’t, at once, promote two reputations. Promote God’s and forget yours. Or promote yours and forget God’s. We must choose.
Forget Your Reputation
In college, there was a group of people that were not treated kindly; they were called bible bangers, Jesus freaks and other derogatory names. My voice was among the mockers. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. I was taught better and I knew better. Mom and dad took me to church, I was a Christian, but did I make a big deal about God or the church? No. I had something far more important to promote. I had a reputation.
I was a former athlete, a fraternity brother, a partyer. I cultivated and protected my reputation like a gardener would his prize roses. What mattered most to me was people’s opinion of me.
After graduation and after meeting a certain special woman I made a decision that me and my house would serve the Lord. A few years after that is when I made the decision to start preaching. The first decision was easier to commit to than the second. I could still protect my reputation at first but once I started preaching there was no hiding it any more. I remembered all the jokes we used to tell about the bible bangers. Did I risk it? Didn’t I have a reputation to protect?
One can’t, at once, promote two reputations. Promote God’s and forget yours. Or promote yours and forget God’s. We must choose.
I. Jesus’ Earthly Father
A. Matthew’s description of Joseph
1. A craftsman. A resident of Nazareth.
2. Joseph never speaks in the New Testament
B. Joseph does much.
1. He sees an angel, marries a pregnant girl.
2. He leads his family to Bethlehem and Egypt.
3. He does much, but he says nothing.
C. Was Joseph the right choice to be Jesus’ earthly father?
1. Didn’t God have better options? A priest from Jerusalem or a scholar of the Pharisees? Why Joseph?
2. A major part of the answer lies in his reputation: he gives it up for Jesus.
3. "Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly." (Matthew 1:19)
II. Joseph’s Reputation
A. The phrase, "a just man," recognizes Joseph’s status.
1. He was a tsadiq, a serious student of the Torah.
2. Nazareth viewed Joseph as we might view and elder or deacon.
3. Tsadiqs studied God’s law. The supported the synagogue, observed holy days, and followed the food restrictions.
4. Joseph likely took pride in his standing, but Mary’s announcement jeopardized it. I’m pregnant.
B. What’s a tsadiq to do?
1. Although not married yet, legally Mary already belongs to Joseph and Joseph to Mary. They were promised to each other and in the laws eyes they were bound.
2. His fiancée is pregnant, blemished, tainted. . . he is righteous, godly.
(a) On one hand he has the law. On the other, he has his love.
(b) The law says stone her. Love says, forgive her.
3. Joseph is caught in the middle. But Joseph is a kind man. He didn’t want to disgrace her, he would just send her away in secret.
4. Then comes the angel. "But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 1:20)
C. Who will believe it?
1. Mary’s growing belly wan’t cause for concern, but reason to rejoice.
2. "She carries the Son of God in her womb," the angel announces.
3. Who would buy this story? Think about Joseph’s questioning by the city leaders.
(a) Joseph we understand Mary is with child. (He nods.)
(b) Is the child yours? (He shakes his head.)
(c) Do you know how she became pregnant?
4. Joseph faces a dilemma. Lie and preserve his reputation, or tell the truth and kiss it all good-bye. He makes his decision.
5. "Joseph. . . took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus." (Matthew 1:24-25)
III. Joseph tanked his reputation.
A. He swapped his tsadiq diploma for a pregnant fiancée and an illegitimate son.
B. Joseph made the decision of discipleship. He placed God’s plan ahead of his own.
Would you be willing to do the same? Would you, will you forfeit your reputation for Christ? "For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16:25)
You can protect your reputation or protect his. You have a choice.
Joseph made his.
Jesus did too. He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:7-8)