Summary: A sermon about the Law of Love.
Sermon Series: "Christmas: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly"
"Let's Keep Joseph in Christmas"
Matthew 1:18-25; 2:13-15, 19-23
Some of us may have been blessed or be blessed to have a father like Joseph.
Others of us may be blessed to know men like him.
If you knew Joseph, you might have noticed his eyes first, and then his hands.
His eyes would be accustomed to studying a line on a stone block wall or making sure a wooden joint was right on square.
His face would be leathered by the Galilean sun and wind, and his eyes would look at you with an openness, a straightforwardness that you would immediately trust.
Joseph is the kind of guy you would want as your carpenter.
His hands were a working man's hands, rough and beat up.
And he was honest, caring.
If we study what the Scriptures say about Joseph we will notice that he appears to have been a quiet guy.
Not a single word is recorded from Joseph's mouth.
But his role in the birth and upbringing of Jesus was indispensible.
Joseph was the strong, silent type.
He was a man who worked hard--a man who could be counted on.
You know the type.
These guys are very seldom the chair of the committee, but they serve faithfully, and everyone respects their judgment, even if it's only given with a nod or a smile.
They are men of integrity.
Their word is their bond.
A handshake for them is better than a signed contract.
Jesus had a really good earthly daddy.
How important is that?
We are told that Joseph and his family "settled in a city called Nazareth..."
And what we know is that Nazareth was a tiny town.
Scholars suggest that it was made up of a few hundred people, maybe only a hundred and fifty--perhaps even the same amount of people who are in this sanctuary this morning.
And we think of Joseph as a carpenter.
The Greek word that the Bible uses literally means "artisan" or "builder" or "stone mason."
And most likely, when Jesus got old enough, he worked side by side with his dad.
Four miles outside of Nazareth, the Romans were rebuilding a pretty good size city, and it's likely that Joseph and Jesus would walk or ride an ox cart daily to build homes and public buildings in that city.
Then, they would walk back home where Mary would have supper waiting.
That kind of work has been going on across centuries, everywhere.
Now, think for a moment.
What does a good, kind-hearted father with a thoughtful and obedient son do on a typical workday?
In that 4-mile trek did Joseph and Jesus talk about God?
Did, even this quiet man, talk to Jesus about important matters as they walked and worked together?
My dad talked about things like that when I was a boy, when we did things together.
My dad made ethical observations that stuck with me, and I bet Joseph did as well.
Another thing we know about Joseph is that he walked closely with God.
He listened to God and did what God said.
In Bethlehem, after Jesus was born, after the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord, in a dream, said to Joseph, "'Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt'...Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt."
And, as you know, that is just one of many examples of Joseph’s obedience to God.
Joseph and Mary obeyed both the Mosaic laws and the laws of the land.
They made the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, probably on foot, to be registered for the census under Roman law.
They circumcised Jesus on the 8th day.
Then they took Jesus to Jerusalem for purification where the upper and middle class people would donate a lamb, but the poor were required to dedicate two turtledoves, and that’s what Joseph did.
Joseph and Mary even brought Jesus back to Jerusalem every year, as it was required, for Passover.
So Joseph was a good, law abiding God-fearing, blue collar Jewish man.
This is what makes how he dealt with Mary, in the beginning of our story so very, very fascinating!!!
First of all, we are told that when Mary and Joseph were engaged, before they got married…
…which would mean, before they consummated the relationship…
Mary got pregnant!!!
And in the very next verse we are told that “Joseph was a righteous man.”
Well, in those days, according to the “letter of the law” as spelled out in Deuteronomy Chapter 22, a righteous man “must” and that word “must” is right there in Deuteronomy 22:24 stone her to death!!!
And yet, in Matthew 1 we are told that because Joseph was a “righteous man”… “he decided to call off their engagement quietly.”