Summary: Sermons on the great texts, scenes and topics found in the Four Gospels
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JOSEPH - THE GOOD MAN WE FORGET
Of all the characters surrounding the Christ child at Christmas, the one we forget the most is Joseph. The Bible never mentions any animals in the stable. They are the product, says Paul Harvey, of legend and logic. Yet the sheep and cattle get more attention than Joseph. You will search the hymnal almost in vain for any reference to Joseph. In art, story, song and sermon he is pushed into the background.
Why is this? It could be his silence. Not one single word from him is recorded in the Bible. It could be that he is found in only two Bible chapters, both connected with Jesus’ infancy. After this he passes from view. It could be he is dwarfed by the Roman Catholic emphasis upon Mary. It could also be because he was not the biological father of Jesus. Whatever the reason, he should not be forgotten.
He is one of the finest characters to grace the pages of holy scripture. He was a godly man and a good man, hand picked by God to be the foster father of His Son. Mary’s body helped shape the body of Jesus, but Joseph’s character helped influence the character of Jesus. No one placed a greater part in the development of a Hebrew child than his father. Joseph was Jesus’ teacher, preacher and priest. He taught Him most of life’s lessons. He taught Him the trade of carpentry. He taught Him the principles of the Jewish religion.
The Bible picture of the Jewish father is one of rare beauty and high responsibility. The father loves (Gen. 37:4); commands (Gen. 50:16); instructs (Prov. 1:8); guides (Jer. 3:4); trains (Hos. 11:3); rebukes (Gen. 34:30); delights in his son (Prov. 3:12); is pained by his son’s folly (Prov. 17:25); and is considerate of his needs (Mt. 7:10). When God wanted to picture His relation to us, He used this picture of fatherhood. And when God wanted someone to teach, guide, instruct, train and warm His Son, he chose Joseph.
The Bible sums up the character of Joseph in Matt. 1:19 when it calls him “a righteous man.” This word, in the Bible, means far more than ”just” or “good.” It is the dominant New Testament word for the saved, for those who live the right kind of lives because they are right with God. It really has two meanings. It means first that He was justified or made right with God through his faith in the mercy of God as revealed in the Jewish sacrificial system. This is imputed righteousness where God, on the basis of shed blood, declares us to be right with Him. But is also means He was made a just and good and righteous person by the regenerative power of God. This is imparted righteousness where God’s Spirit, in the new birth changes us and lives in us.
In imputed righteousness we are declared to be the children of God and this takes place the instant we believe. In imparted righteousness we are enabled to act like children of God and this takes the process of a lifetime. The emphasis is imputed righteousness is forgiveness or pardon. The emphasis is imparted righteousness is fruitfulness or power. With these two ideas in mind, look at Joseph.