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One Man’s Response to Christmas

12/18/05 CC/AM

(Angels At Christmas #4)

Matthew 1:18-25

Introduction: Angels played a very active role in the first Christmas.  They appeared first to Zechariah to tell him that he would have a son named John who would be the promised fore runner of the Messiah.  Next, the same angel appeared to Mary to tell her that she was the one chosen to mother the Christ child and that His name would be Jesus which means “God Saves” and that is exactly what He does.

An angel appears next to Joseph, a man espoused to Mary. We don’t have a lot of information about Joseph but what we do have tells us a great deal about the kind of man that he was.  As we look at his response to Christmas we will make an acrostic of his name and see six qualities that he possessed.

1.     J- Just

a.      He was espoused to Mary.  This was the second stage of getting married. In the first stage the parents would meet and make a deal for their kids to get married.  They generally became espoused after the two had meet and agreed to marry the other.  Then about a year later they would have a wedding that consisted of feasting and benedictions given by friends and relatives which would last for seven days and then the groom would take his bride to their home.

b.     It was after Mary and Joseph had agreed to follow their parent’s wishes and become husband and wife that Mary goes to visit Elizabeth and three months later she returns and Joseph somehow comes to the realization that something is very wrong!

c.     In verse 19 he is described as a just or a righteous man.  By law, he had some option to consider.  Because they were legally married, even though they had not lived together yet, for him top cancel the wedding it would require a formal divorce.  That could be done in two ways.  It could have been done publicly before the village magistrates at the village gate.  It was a way to cause public humiliation and even allowed for the public stoning of the one who had been unfaithful.  The other option was to quietly give the woman divorce papers and send her on her way.

d.     Joseph’s desire was to do the right thing.  He was a righteous man, not a self-righteous one.  Even though he was hurt deeply he did not want to be harsh with her even though he would have been well within his rights in a normal situation.

2.     O - Obedient

a.      While he thought about his next move and we don’t know how long he had struggled with this decision, an angel appears to him in a dream and gives him the inside scoop of what has happened to Mary.  She has not been unfaithful to you.  On the contrary she has been considered faithful by God and He has graced her with a huge blessing.  The Holy Spirit, not some other man, is responsible for the pregnancy.  She has not been violated by some other person.  Her purity is in tact.  He can go ahead and take her to be his wife without ever wondering if there had been another guy.

b.     Now he has another decision to make.  He can be obedient to this message from God or he could pretend he never had this dream and go ahead with the divorce.

c.     When he wakes up he did more than say, wow what a weird dream.  He goes and takes Mary home to be his wife immediately to spare her the shame of being an unwed mother.

d.     People would still talk.  They would do the math and figure out that something happened to her while she was gone three months.  They probably made fun of Joseph for accepting her in that condition.

e.      What mattered to Joseph is what should matter to us.  Being obedient to God and His desire for us should be our number one priority.

f.       Joseph was obedient on more than just this once.  When told to leave all you have and flee to Egypt, he fled.  When he was told it was time to come back, he came.  He live in simple obedience and God took care of the rest!  Same with us!

3.     S – Silent

a.      We could say that Joseph was the strong and silent type because in all of Scripture it is not recorded that he ever spoke a word.  Zechariah sings, Elizabeth shouts, Mary sings, the shepherds evangelize the wisemen question and bring gifts, it is not recorded that Joseph ever said a thing!

b.     I am sure he did talk, but none of his words are recorded.

c.     He may have been a man of few words, but his strength of character was displayed by his actions.

4.     E - Example

a.      Of commitment to his wife despite the hardships of stress, embarrassment, disappointment, and inconvenience.

5.     P - Protector

a.      He took his family to safety as instructed by the angel to flee the coming wrath of Herod.

b.     He didn’t return to his home and business until he received word that it was OK to go back.  His priority was to take care of his family, not his own economic success.

6.     H – Humble

a.      He could have reacted in anger but he responded with humility and compassion.

b.     He was upstaged by all the attention given to a baby that was not even his but that didn’t seem to bother him.

c.      He quietly went about his business of caring for his family.

Conclusion: We could use more men like Joseph.  Men that are committed to their wife and family.  Men that are righteous, they do the right things when crisis comes.  Men that are humble and obedient.  God chose Mary to bare His Son but He also chose Joseph to be his foster parent and for very good reasons.  He was quite a man!

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