Summary: In the Christmas story, only Joseph has no speaking part. Angels, Mary, the wise men and shepherds all speak, but Joseph is silent. Yet Joseph’s ACTIONS speak volumes and teach us some wonderful truths. This sermons lists 3 we can learn from Joseph.
Lessons from a Quiet Carpenter
December 22, 2015
TEXT: Turn to Matthew 1:18-25 (TO BE READ LATER)
Christmas is always a special time of year. Families have their different traditions: decorating the Christmas tree, hanging stockings, traveling to visit family and friends, spending a lot of money! Many people enjoy driving around the local towns and villages in Germany or in neighborhoods in the U.S., looking at the twinkling lights used to beautifully decorate towns or people’s homes. In Germany at least, if you drive around, you’ll inevitably come across various nativity scenes displaying the birth of Jesus. Many churches throughout the land will tell the story of Jesus’ birth through dramas and children’s plays—reenacting those wondrous events.
The cast of characters associated with the story of Jesus’ birth is pretty interesting. We recognize them by their unique speaking parts.
• First are THE ANGELS who take center stage to announce the birth of the Savior.
They appear to Joseph to announce that the name of the child would be Jesus. The archangel Gabriel makes the unforgettable announcement to Mary. And an angelic army interrupts the shepherds, shouting, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14).
• Next on stage is MARY, whose selection by God humbles her, causing her to spontaneously break forth in a beautiful hymn of thanksgiving recorded in Luke 1:46-56 – The first two verses give us a sense of her heart-song: “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me 47 blessed.”
• Then THE WISE MEN come on stage, desperate in their search to find the newborn King and prepared to present Him with gifts of honor. – They ask, “Where is he who is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2).
• And of course, we can’t forget THE SHEPHERDS, who become the early evangelists.
In Luke 2, the shepherds hurry to find the baby the angels had told them about. Luke says, “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” (Luke 2:17).
Now here’s the strange thing about the whole story: only Joseph has no speaking part. He’s the lone silent member of the cast and is often forgotten. ANGELS bring heavenly greetings; MARY sings a praiseful solo; WISE MEN speak to Herod and his advisors; and SHEPHERDS preach—but JOSEPH is silent. No lines are attributed to him—no sound bites, no quotes—only SILENCE.
But you know what?—Joseph is irreplaceable in the story of Jesus’ birth. He plays an important role.
Look with me at our text in Matthew 1:18-25, and pay special attention to the role that Joseph played to bring about the greatest gift of all time: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
It’s still astonishing to me that nowhere in these verses do we hear Joseph’s voice. In fact, as we search the Gospels, we discover that they don’t record even a single word from the mouth of Jesus’ earthly father, the humble carpenter of Nazereth. But, as people sometimes say, actions often speak louder than words! Through his silent actions in Matthew 1, Joseph teaches us three lessons:
I. THE FIRST IS A LESSON IN MERCY – Look again with me at verses 18-19 – “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example [literally to “put her to public shame”], was minded to put her away [that is, privately].”