Summary: At Christmas one character who remains silent is Joseph; yet he bore a mighty witness
The Silent Witness
JCC 27.12.09 am
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