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Summary: Sermons on the great texts, scenes and topics found in the Four Gospels

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homeorchurchbiblestudy.com bob marcaurelle Anderson, SC

JOSEPH - THE GOOD MAN WE FORGET

Matt. 1:18-25

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.

HE WAS A FORGIVEN MAN

From the word “righteous” our first assertion is that Joseph was saved. He was forgiven. His sins which were many were all washed away. His heart which was corrupt was cleansed and changed by the power of God. His hope for eternity was that he would dwell in the house of the Lord forever. We do not know when Joseph was saved. He was probably in his middle or late twenties when we meet him in the Bible. Though young in years he is mature in the faith. Maybe he accepted God as a boy and never knew the paths of rebellion. Maybe after a period of rebellion he came to God in his teens. It does not matter. At some point in his life Joseph decided by faith to give God his sins to forgive and his life to control. How was Joseph saved?

How did he become right with God? How did he get rid of his sins and get his name recorded in heaven? Was it because he was born a Jew, a member of God’s chosen nation? No, for the Bible makes it clear that God has no grandchildren. You can be born a Baptist and a preacher’s son, but Jesus says we have to be born again. Was it because he was naturally good and instinctively did that which was right? No, for the Bible says that there is “none righteous, no not even one” (Rom. 3:10). Joseph, like each of us was born in sin, was by nature a child of wrath and deserving of the just punishment of God. He was not saved because of what he WAS but because of what he BECAME. No, my friends, Joseph was saved as all men before and after him are saved and that is by a willingness to turn from sin (repentance) combined with trust and commitment to the God of the Bible. It appears that Joseph died sometime during the Nazareth years of Christ’s growth. He is never mentioned again with Christ’s mother and brothers and sisters. On the cross Jesus gives John the duty of caring for Mary (Jn. 19:26-27).

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