Summary: As much as God was looking for a trustworthy righteous woman to carry the Messiah, He was also looking for a righteous man who would protect Mary and do the hard things necessary to bring the Messiah into the world. God found that man in Joseph.
Joseph, the Unsung Hero of Christmas
Characters of Christmas Series – Message Two - 2008
Gages Lake Bible Church
December 14, 2008
Pastor Daniel Darling
1) Joseph, in many ways, is the forgotten man of Christmas. We don’t sing his story in Christmas carols. There are no cards or poems written about him. And yet his story is a compelling story of faithfulness in a nearly impossible situation. He’s not even the most well-known Joseph in the Bible.
2) But before we talk about Joseph, I want to tell you a story about my friend, Jim Pence. Jim is an author who has written several books. But his first novel was titled, Blind Sight and was published by Tyndale a number of years ago. Jim wrote this book, but he really didn’t think it was all that of a success. Many writers write their first book and it’s a springboard to others. It’s a great book, but it wasn’t his favorite work.
3) But for some reason, he wrote this book. Recently Jim emailed this story to me about his book:
a. This past spring, two young men broke into Terry C’s home before dawn. They shot him and killed his wife, and then went upstairs and murdered the couple’s two young sons. They then set fire to the house and left the family for dead. Although he had been shot five times, Terry escaped through the bathroom window and crawled three hundred yards to a neighbor’s. To make matters worse his daughter was implicated in the crime. Overnight, Terry lost his entire family.
A few months later, Terry went back to his property. The remains of the house had been bulldozed and little was left. Torn with grief, and unable to understand why God had taken his family and allowed him to survive, Terry cried out to God, "Why did you take my family? Why didn’t you take me, too? I don’t understand."
As he stood there, Terry noticed a scrap of paper stuck to the trunk of a nearby tree. He went over and picked it up. The paper was part of a page from my novel, "Blind Sight." The edges of the page were scorched and it was difficult to read. But the words were like a direct message from God.
"I couldn’t understand why You would take my family and leave me behind to struggle along without them. And I guess I still don’t totally understand that part of it. But I do believe that You’re sovereign; You’re in control. . . and I know that You’ve brought Justine and those children into my life. And they need me. Lord, You could have taken my life that day, but You spared it. And You’ve gone on sparing it. It doesn’t matter what happens to me now, but if I can help them, please let me do it."
Those paragraphs turned Terry’s life around. He found the strength to go on, and is now sharing his testimony in churches around the country. When he speaks, he brings the page from my novel, now preserved in a frame, and shows it to the congregation.
Not only had the house burned, but the site had been bulldozed and the debris hauled off. What little was left had been exposed to the weather for months. And out of a nearly 400 page book, all that remained was a brief passage where a man who had lost his family came to grips with the Sovereignty of God and decided to move forward.
That scrap of paper lay there against a tree trunk as if waiting for Terry C: a man who had lost his family and desperately needed to come to grips with the Sovereign goodness of God.
4) What happened to Joseph in the Christmas story almost seems as unfair as what happened to this man. He was presented with a crisis so overwhelming, it would have shattered most young men his age.
5) We don’t know a lot about Joseph, but let’s review some critical details of his life:
a. He was most likely a teenager.
b. His father was Jacob
c. His family hometown was Bethlehem in Judea. But he lived in Nazareth in Galilee. That meant Joseph and Mary had to travel about 90 miles in the dead of winter to register for Caesar’s census.
d. He was a carpenter by trade.
e. He was a poor man.
i. When he and Mary presented Jesus in the temple, they could not afford a lamb, so they purchased two turtledoves.
f. He was very serious about his faith. We’ll explore that later.
g. It is very likely that Joseph was a teenager—17 years old—which makes his story all the more remarkable.
6) Joseph’s Story Should Be Important to Us, Because It’s Important To God. The New Testament opens with Joseph’s story