Summary: Part of the Christmas Wonder PowerPak. (Powerpoint available - #100)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at email@example.com and request #100.)
If you were going to make a list of the great loving couples of history, who would be on your list? Romeo & Juliet? Anthony & Cleopatra? And if you turn to the Bible maybe you would add the names of Abraham & Sara, Boaz & Ruth.
Mary & Joseph would probably not be on your list, for when we think of them we don't normally think of them in that way because the spotlight is on Jesus, where it should be.
But I think that if we examine the love of Mary & Joseph, we would realize it was a love that stands the test of time. The love they had for each other, coupled with the love they had for God, culminates in one of the greatest love stories ever told.
So this morning, I invite you to look at Christmas through the eyes of Joseph, & hear Joseph's Christmas story. You'll find it in Matthew 1, beginning in vs. 18.
PROP. There are 4 parts to the story, & in each part you will see how much Joseph loved Mary.
I. HAPPY EXPECTATIONS
The first part of Joseph's story is one of happy expectations. Vs. 18 begins with these words, "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph . . ."
A. Now we need to understand that a Jewish marriage consisted of 3 stages. The first stage is the engagement. Usually that was arranged by their parents. Two sets of parents would get together & talk things over.
One would say to the other, "We would like to have your daughter marry our son." Her parents would reply, "That sounds like a good idea. Let's discuss it." And these two sets of parents would arrange the engagement without the young people even being involved.
ILL. One example of that in the O.T. was when Abraham sent his servant to his home country to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant found Rebekah & brought her back. Isaac had never seen her before. Then she became his wife.
ILL. Most preachers see young people in love, wanting to get married, with stars in their eyes. They're caught up in the emotions of romance, making decisions that will affect them all the rest of their lives.
SUM. The Jews felt that young people did not possess the wisdom to make that kind of a decision, so the parents made the decision for them.
B. The second stage of a Jewish marriage was called "Betrothal." During this time the young couple agreed to the marriage, signed a legal document, & were considered "husband & wife." But they didn't live together yet.
It was a time of building a relationship, of coming to know one another. It was a time of the groom preparing the place where they would live - a time of planning & dreaming & happy expectations. This time of betrothal usually lasted about a year.
Notice that Matthew says, "…before they came together..." There were no sexual relations during this time. Joseph loved Mary so much that he did not take advantage of her.
APPL. Now this needs to be said to young people today. If someone is pressuring you, saying, "If you really love me, prove it by giving yourself to me," then you say, "If you really love me, you'll wait, because I'm going to save myself for the one I marry. If you're not willing to wait, then you're not the one."
Some may say that is unrealistic, but I don't agree. Marriages built upon lust are insecure, because if you can lust after one person, you can lust after another. But marriages built upon love exhibit trust & commitment & faithfulness.
ILL. Paul Harvey told about an airline stewardess who was being harassed by a slightly inebriated man up in the first class section who was making passes at her, & trying to get her to agree to meet him in his hotel suite that night.
With some difficulty she got away from him, only to encounter another man at the rear of the plane acting the same way, trying to find out where she was staying, & making suggestive proposals to her about that night.
At last, the pilot announced that they were making their final approach for landing. Once again the guy in front offered her a key to his hotel suite & begged her to meet him there. To his obvious delight, she smiled at him & accepted his key, placing it securely in the pocket of her apron.