Summary: At Christmas one character who remains silent is Joseph; yet he bore a mighty witness

The Silent Witness

JCC 27.12.09 am

Matt 1

Let us examine the characters associated with Jesus’ birth

We recognize them by their unique speaking parts

The Angels take centre stage to announce the birth of the Saviour

They appear to Joseph to announce that the name of the child would be Jesus

The arch angel Gabriel makes the unforgettable announcement to Mary that she will have a son

An angelic choir interrupts the shepherds singing, Glory to God in the highest

The Virgin Mary, offers her beautiful song of thanksgiving in Luke 1:46-48: "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed."

The wise men in a desperate search find the newborn king and present him treasures and gifts of worship.

In Matthew 2:2 "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

The shepherds became early evangelists!

In Luke 2, the shepherds hurry to find the baby Jesus after the announcement of the angelic choir

Upon finding Jesus, Luke says, "Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child." v17

Only Joseph has no speaking part

He is the lone silent witness of the cast and often forgotten or left in the background

No notable lines are accredited to him

No sounds, no quotes, just silence

Joseph is the forgotten figure of Christmas

But his importance cannot be overlooked

Through Joseph, God protected the unborn life of Jesus, preserving him and protecting him from Herod’s schemes

His life teaches us 3 lessons

Lessons in righteous mercy, redemptive faith, and obedience

Each is important to preserve and realize God’s purpose and promise in our lives

1) A Lesson in Righteous Mercy 18-19

Joseph steps in to the scene in the middle of a family nightmare

We are not told what Mary’s parents thought

Having become engaged to young girl in the Jewish tradition, he has worked hard to establish an income to support his new bride and begin a family

He was in love

He was committed to Mary

He believed she loved him, until he heard the news that she was pregnant

Heart-broken and betrayed, how did he respond?

Did he publicly shame her and serve her with a certificate of divorce?

Did he give her for public stoning?

Her explanation of the pregnancy was unbelievable, even blasphemous, and it did nothing to ease Joseph’s emotional betrayal

Mary should have been stoned

But what did Joseph do?

He showed righteous mercy towards her

V 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly

He demonstrated a solid character

Before any divine explanation, Joseph chooses mercy

No malice. No explosion.

Words would have been appropriate here

‘How could you do this to me? Who’s the father? Tell me his name’

But, no words are recorded, only tenderness and silence

He probably was the talk of Nazareth

Friends might have distanced themselves with snide comments, but he would not hurt Mary, no matter what he thought she had done to him

That’s a just man! That’s a merciful man

He could have demanded justice, but he chose righteous mercy as his path

Joseph’s mercy stands in contrast with his ancestor Judah in Genesis 38:24-26

Judah demanded justice, being blinded by his own sin

There are times when those you are close to bring shame and hurt on you

But how do you respond?

When people deserve the sentence of justice, choose righteous mercy, which extends patience, grace, encouragement and empathy

Reach out with a loving silence and pray to the God of heaven for answers

2) A Lesson in Redemptive Faith 20-23

Mary carried the plan of God

The unborn plans of God, like Jesus at that time, are protected by redemptive faith

Our unborn plans are also protected by redemptive faith

In other words, when we trust God, we will arrive at His promises

First, we see this in Joseph’s faith and his willingness to believe God

Joseph intended to serve a certificate of divorce, end his engagement with Mary, and handle the matter quietly

Only then does the Lord let Joseph in on the plan

He was ready to call him to faith, to believe

Joseph’s eyes were opened to a glimpse of the Divine plan

In Joseph’s dream, God reminded him of His God-given identity

God’s angelic messenger addressed Joseph with a unique title, "Joseph, Son of David."

The God that watches over His plans and the purpose for your life wants you to know who you are in Him

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