Summary: Through an angel, God changed Joseph. What "angel" does God use today to change us? How can we be "angels" to others?
Matthew 1:18-25 “Touched by an Angel”
Have you ever heard of the show “Touched by an Angel”? It’s a pretty popular show. I did some research on the show, and here’s what I’ve found. The show usually begins with a person or some people who have problems. Maybe they brought these problems upon themselves, or maybe these problems just happened to them. Regardless, they have problems. An angel from heaven shows up and helps them solve their problems, and during the show, the angel also teaches them a lesson. Usually, the lesson is this – that God loves you. You are a good person – there is so much love and goodness and wonderfulness inside of you, and because of that good inside of you, God loves you. Then the show ends.
As with every TV show that tries to be spiritual, there are good things and bad things, pros and cons. First, let’s talk about the good things. The show acknowledges that there is a God, and angels. That’s good! On the other hand, most people believe that anyway, so it’s not really that big of an accomplishment. The show encourages people to stop being evil and selfish. That’s good too! The less evil and selfish people there are, the better! The show teaches us that God cares about his creation, and that’s true too. He does!
But not everything about the show is good. There are some mistakes.
Mistake number one: the show teaches you that God loves you because of the good inside of you. That’s not true. The Bible teaches us that we are born with sin inside of us – 100% sin - nothing good in the eyes of God. In spite of our sin, God loves us, and the Bible calls that love “grace,” which is undeserved love. The concept of grace is very different from the concept of God loving you because of the good inside of you. The Bible teaches us that God gives us his love as a gift, even though we don’t deserve it. That’s mistake number one, and it’s a big one – the show teaches false doctrine about God’s love.
“Touched by an Angel” makes another mistake: the angels never ever talk about Jesus Christ. That’s not shocking – in order for the show to appeal to more viewers, it has to leave out Christ. Unfortunately, that goes against everything the Bible teaches about angels. The angels in the Bible were very Christocentric. Everything they said and did revolved around Jesus Christ, and God’s plan of salvation. Never in the Bible would an angel appear to someone, not talk about Jesus Christ, and tell you how great you are. Except for one – which angel was that? Satan. That’s mistake number two, and it’s a big one again. The show tries to talk about God without talking about Jesus Christ, which really doesn’t work.
I’m not here this morning to tell you, “Thou shalt not watch Touched by an Angel.” For those people who use this show as a substitute for religion, they’re not learning anything that will get them get to heaven. For a Christian to watch that show, I would say this: watch with a careful eye, a listening ear, and a talkative mouth. If you’re a parent, be responsible. As a responsible parent, you will make sure that your child doesn’t walk away from that show with a false understanding of God’s love, and God’s message of salvation. As a Christian, you weigh the pros and cons and decide how you can best glorify God, always approaching everything with a careful eye, a listening ear, and a talkative mouth.
Why am I talking about angels this morning? Because Christmas Eve is tomorrow, and Christmas time is a time when people talk about angels and God. This morning, we’re going to look at a real life experience of someone being touched by an angel – the stepfather of Jesus – Joseph. We’re going to look at his encounter, and learn some valuable lessons. Today you will see how you also have been touched by an angel, and how you might even be an angel God uses to touch others.
Matthew chapter one reveals to us that Joseph was a nice, ignorant man. He was engaged to a young girl named Mary. But something terrible happened during the engagement – his fiancée became pregnant, and he wasn’t the father. She tried to explain to him the situation, that the Holy Spirit was the father. But to Joseph, this was too much to believe. Joseph was ignorant, but you really couldn’t blame him. How was he supposed to know that his fiancée was pregnant with the Messiah? God’s promises were about to be fulfilled, and his fiancée was right in the middle of everything! But how could Joseph know? There must be another man in Mary’s life, Joseph probably thought. But Joseph was an honorable man. He wasn’t going to publicly disgrace Mary. He would file for divorce quietly. Joseph was nice, but ignorant.