Summary: Out of all the characters in the Christmas saga, Joseph is the one most overlooked and forgotten. Someone has pointed out that there is no place in God’s Word where any of Joseph’s words is recorded. But we can learn a great deal from Joseph and his godly
Introduction: Out of all the characters in the Christmas saga, Joseph is the one most overlooked and forgotten. Someone has pointed out that there is no place in God’s Word where any of Joseph’s words is recorded. But we can learn a great deal from Joseph and his godly character in the few verses we have of the narration of the birth of Christ as given in Matthew 1.
I. His Dilemma
A. Matthew 1:18 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”
B. Joseph probably thought his life was pretty well planned. His marriage and his vocation were all arranged neatly for him, but then his world came crashing down. He discovered that his bride-to-be was pregnant. He was in a hard place to understand and deal with. Why had God allowed this to happen in his life?
C. Mary I am sure told Joseph what had taken place and avowed her virginity. But who ever heard of such a thing? What would he do?
D. Joseph had one of three options: 1. Marry her quickly even though the baby wasn’t his. 2. Publicly divorce Mary as an adulteress, in which case she would be stoned to death. 3. Have the marriage contract set aside quietly, while Mary went off to have her baby elsewhere.
E. It was the poet Robert Burns who wished for humanity the power to see ourselves as others see us. What insights would come to us! But what if we could see our lives as God does? If we could see as God sees, we would know that most of our fears never materialize. The majority of things most of us spend the bulk of our time worrying over are never going to happen. So we waste energy and weaken ourselves for today’s task. Foresight and precaution are one thing, but worry is something else again. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself," said Jesus. "Each day has enough trouble of its own." If we could see as God sees, we would realize that no problem that does arise is without resolution. In our gloomier moments of illness, financial stress, or personal problems, we muse over questions that seem to have no answers. But the Bible still promises: "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." If we could see as God sees, we would understand that no problem comes without an attached blessing. The good end of a painful beginning can seldom be known in advance. So, in our anxiety, we tend to doubt that anything good can come from heartache. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds," said Jesus’s half-brother, "because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." If we could see as God sees, we would know that pain always signals the possibility for growth. Although we sometimes sigh for a world free of difficulties, we know deep inside that such a world would create cold and unfeeling people. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Through God’s eyes, today may look very different from what you think you see. As my friend put it last week: "God’s peace is greater than your pain, and his promise is greater than your loss." So trust the One with clearer vision. – Rubel Shelly, The FAX of Life
II. His Character
A. Matthew 1:19 “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.”
B. While the law in Deuteronomy 22 prescribed stoning, Joseph reacted with mercy reaching past the circumstance, not allowing the circumstance to govern him. His mercy was totally contrary to the natural human response.
C. Before there was any divine explanation, Joseph chose mercy. He did not act out of malice. He could have demanded a resentful condemnation but acted out of love.
D. How do you react when you are wronged? Two friends were walking through the desert and got into an argument. One friend slapped the other on the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: "Today my best friend slapped me in the face." They kept walking until they found an oasis. Thirsty, they stopped for water. The one who was slapped got stuck in the mire, fell in, and started to drown. His friend saved him. That night, he wrote on a stone: "Today my best friend save my life." The friend who had slapped then saved the other, asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now you write on a stone, why?" He replied: "When someone hurts us we should write it in the sand where the winds of forgiveness can erase it way. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where it will be long remembered."