Summary: A sermon based on Matthew 1:18-25 challenging people to see Joseph’s significance and follow his example.

The Unsung Hero Of Christmas


Over the last few years the code breakers who worked in secret at Bletchley Park in England deciphering the German’s secret messages have emerged as the great unsung heroes of the last war. It is impossible to calculate how many lives their work saved or how many months their work shortened the war by. Until the last few years they didn’t get the recognition that deserved.

History is full of unsung heroes like the WW2 code breakers but this morning I want us to think about one unsung hero in particular.

Someone who is quite literally an unsung hero.

Over the next few days as Christmas gets closer we’ll sing just about all the well known carols. We’ll sing about Jesus, we’ll sing about Mary, about the shepherds, the wise men and the angels.

What we won’t do is sing about one of the most significant characters of the Christmas story, that’s Joseph.

There are carols about little drummer boys and little donkeys, there are carols about ancient Czechoslovakian Kings but I don’t know of any Carols about Joseph.

In fact, even cattle, that aren’t even mentioned in the Christmas story, get mentioned more often in our carols than Joseph does.

Just about everything we know about Joseph comes from that passage we read from Matthew. There have been lots of speculation that Joseph was an older man, that he had been married before, but the truth is we just don’t know. It does seem probable that Joseph had died by the time Jesus had grown up because after the stories about Jesus’ childhood he completely disappears. All we really know about Joseph for certain is what Matthew tell us here.

Now Joseph might be regarded as being insignificant by most hymn writers but he wasn’t regarded as insignificant by God.

I think if I had to entrust my son Allan’s upbringing to another man. I would look for someone who was rich, or famous or intelligent. Yet when God had to entrust his son’s upbringing to a man he chose to overlook all the rich and powerful men of that generation like the Roman emperor. He chose to overlook all those regarded as being educated and intelligent like the Greek philosophers. Instead God chose to entrust the upbringing of his son to a working class man, a carpenter from a small town from an area of Israel that everyone else though was a bit backward.

Do you remember one of Jesus disciples voicing the common opinion about Nazareth. “ can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Well God thought something good had come Nazareth, and that was Joseph.

God’s choice of Joseph to oversee the upbringing of Jesus is a reminder to us of one of the most important spiritual principles God operates on.

Here it is “Prominence doesn’t equal significance in the Kingdom of God”

What that basically means is that God isn’t impressed by what impresses us.

We live today in what some has called the Celebrity Culture.

Inside those magazines like Hello & OK that you see at the supermarket check outs you’ll discover what people think success and significance is all about.

According to these magazines your significance as person is judged by

How well you are known

How much you own

How good you look

How much success you’re having

In our celebrity culture prominent people are significant people but in the Kingdom of God it is different.

The whole message of the Bible is that what counts with God is character.

What counts with God is not what you have or what you have done but who you are and who you are becoming.

When God wants to judge our significance,

He doesn’t look at our image, at what we want people to think we are.

He doesn’t look at our reputation, at what people actually think we are.

Instead, the Bible tells us that God looks at our heart, at the person we really are. When he looked at Joseph’s heart he saw someone that impressed him.

Joseph was significant in God’s eyes because God saw in Joseph a character that he could count on. Joseph and God’s treatment of him I think raises two questions for us that I want us to think about


The first question I want you to ask yourself is what reputation do I have with God?

In a shop the other day I overheard a woman describing someone else to her friend as “Mr Angry.”

Someone through their action and attitudes had built a reputation for being angry.

Joseph in the same way through his attitudes and actions had built a reputation with God. Just listen to God expressing his opinion of Joseph in His Word “Joseph was a righteous man” Mat 1:19

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