Summary: Like Joseph, the foster father of our Lord Jesus, may we trust in God’s protecting care...with a faith like Joseph’s that listens...with a faith like Joseph’s that obeys.
A boy was given a part in the Christmas program at his church. He was asked to play the part of Joseph—the foster father of Jesus. The day before Christmas Eve, when the children were suppose to have their program, the boy became sick. His mother was very concerned about him missing the Christmas program. She thought it would be too late to get a substitute for her son and that his absence would ruin the whole service. But the boy reassured his mother. He said, “Mom, they won’t even miss me if I am not at the service. Joseph doesn’t have any lines. No body pays any attention to him. Most people can’t tell the difference between Joseph and the shepherds. It won’t matter if I am there or not.”
Is there any truth in the observation that the little boy made about Joseph? Would we notice if he weren’t a part of the story of Jesus’ birth? If we saw a Christmas program or a nativity scene without Joseph would we recognize that he was missing?
When it comes to the account of Jesus’ birth we certainly remember Mary’s part in it. We could rightfully say she had the lead role. And when we think of Christmas Eve we remember the shepherds who were told about the birth of Jesus. They spread the word concerning what had been told them about the baby they saw in the manger. We also remember the angels who spoke to the shepherds. It is also not unusual for us to recall the visit by the Magi who came and gave gifts to the newborn King. But what about Joseph is he just part of the background scenery?
No words of Joseph are recorded in the Bible. When an angel appeared to Mary, and Elizabeth, and Zechariah they all spoke some sort of response. But Joseph seems to have just listened to the message given to him. Although silent in Scripture we know that Joseph did play an important part in process of God bringing his Son into the world. In the gospel lesson for this Sunday we see most vividly the role that Joseph had when the time came for the Savior to be born. We see Joseph as an example of a faithful husband and a caring father. But most of all Joseph is a shining example of trust in God’s protecting care.
That will be the focus of our sermon this morning. As the Holy Spirit leads us into these words may they work the same kind of trust in us that God worked in Joseph. He listened to the commands and promises of God. He obeyed the commands of God and trusted his promises. May each of us have the same:
TRUST IN GOD’S PROTECTING CARE
I. With a faith like Joseph’s that listens
II. With a faith like Joseph’s that obeys
Even before the events recorded in our gospel lesson Joseph demonstrated the fact that he was willing to listen to God and obey him. After Mary broke the news to him that she was pregnant while maintaining that she was still a virgin Joseph considered filing for a divorce from her. But then he was told by an angel in a dream to keep his engagement to Mary and to still receive her as his wife. Joseph listened and obeyed. Then the government (under God’s control of course) told Joseph to go to Bethlehem with his very pregnant wife. Again he listened and obeyed.
After Jesus was born some foreign visitors came to worship the Son that the Holy Spirit had conceived in Joseph’s wife. They gave him gifts of gold, and incense , and myrrh. They were barely out the door when God sent another message to Joseph. Our gospel lesson tells us, “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’” As he had done in the past Joseph put his trust in God’s protecting care. He did that with a faith that listened and with a faith that obeyed.
Perhaps we don’t fully appreciate how significant it is that Joseph listened attentively to all the messages the angels brought him. Think about what Joseph was told to do. At first he was told to take his wife and her young son to a strange land where he had no job or home. Then after he was settled in Egypt for a while an angel of the Lord appeared to him again with another message. Matthew tells us, “After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.’” And then he was given another message in a dream with yet another change of plans. “Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth.” Not counting the first message from the Lord that Joseph received concerning his fiancée’ these verses speak of three additional commands from God.