Summary: A Biographical Sermon on Joseph.
THE QUIET CHARACTER OF A GODLY MAN
I want you to imagine what would happen if you knew that you would not be around to raise your children. Who would you choose to parent them through their lives to adulthood? You would want someone who would protect them and provide for them like you would, and who would teach them all the things you thought important. You probably wouldn’t just make a list and then hand it to the first stranger you met on the street and inform them, “This is how I want my kid raised.” You would want someone you could trust- someone whose values were as close as possible to your own, who was responsible and faithful. You would want to know this person was trustworthy and good,
I believe God wanted the same thing when it came time to choose the parents of Jesus. I do not believe He left that choice to chance, but gave this task to two very special people. I also believe this is at least part of the reason that He chose this quiet man of character named Joseph to protect and provide for Jesus.
This morning, I want to talk to you about the character of this almost forgotten character in the Christmas story , but since there are several different definitions for this word, let me begin by trying to make what I mean clear.
We sometimes use the word character to speak of someone who is unique or odd, as we might say, “Old Joe is a real character.” Or we might speak of a person who is part of a story as a character in a book or movie. We could also speak of a person whose life exhibits admirable or noble traits as a person with character.
On all three levels, these definitions pertain to Joseph. He was unique in all the story of the Bible for what God chose him to do. He is a character in true story that we are all familiar with. But most of all, I believe that he is a man whose personality reflects the very character of God Himself.
And yet this carpenter seems to be the least important member of the cast of characters in the Christmas story. He was not Jesus’ real father, and although we see the words of Mary, the shepherds, the Wise men, even evil King Herod quoted in Scripture, we never see one word of Joseph recorded in the Bible.
But I believe that this quiet man left behind something that speaks much louder than his words ever could. I believe we can see in the Biblical record that God did not choose this man by accident to be the foster father of His Son. Joseph was chosen because he was a man of godly character, someone who not only reflects the character of God, but also gives us all a good example of how we should live as well.
Let begin his story in Matthew 1:18.
I. JOSEPH WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN (MATT. 1:18,19)
The word just is used to sum up the character of Joseph in v. 19, and it is full of meaning. Some translate it by the word righteous. It was a word used of someone whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God. Joseph shows this quality of character in how he dealt with the unique situation that he found himself in.
A. He loved what was right. The Bible tells us that Joseph and Mary were espoused, or some versions say betrothed. Hebrew marriage consisted of 2 stages: the betrothal (kiddushin) and the marriage ceremony (huppah).
During the betrothal, the parents would arrange the contract of marriage where the groom’s father would pay the bride’s father a dowry, or bride price, which would provide “insurance” should the groom become dissatisfied with the woman and want to divorce her. The couple was considered legally married as soon as this contract was made, but the couple would still have to wait up to a year for the huppah before they would consummate the marriage. The betrothal period served as a time of probation and testing of fidelity.
The trouble came when it appeared that Mary had violated that trust, and becomes pregnant. In addition to disappointing Joseph greatly, it put Joseph in a dilemma.
The Law gave him the right to call for a public humiliation of Mary for her apparent betrayal, or even to have her stoned as an adulteress. Or he could settle the matter privately. No matter what he chose to do, marrying a woman who had (as far as he knew) betrayed her commitment to God and him made it wrong for him to marry her because Joseph was a man who loved good and hated evil.