· Mocking a former UFC fighter in class – not what he was expecting to hear. Christmas story opens with people hearing things they aren’t expecting to hear – God at work. How would they respond? Joseph responds with unexpected courage.
· I often lack courage – the strength/desire to do what I know is right in the face of adversity or ridicule. I often lack courage in my walk with the Lord – doing what I know He wants me to do regardless of how it affects my life or how it affects how others think of me.
· The Christmas story is a story of unexpected courage. When Joseph understands the greatness of God’s plan – he walks in courage.
· Joseph’s story – Three characteristics of courage.
1. Courage is a willingness to be inconvenienced.
· Back to Nazareth – small town – insignificant, ordinary people. Gabriel has appeared to Mary – announcement of God choosing her – transformed her life overnight.
· Luke = birth story focused on Mary. Matthew = birth story focused on Joseph.
· No details – but somehow and someway, Mary tells Joseph the news. Immediate heartbreak. Imagine the tears shed, the anger, the feeling of betrayal. Mary, “Don’t worry – it’s God’s Son – I’ve been conceived by the Holy Spirit – I’m still a virgin.” Right, and God also gave you a pet unicorn.
· Joseph a just man. OT Law – Deut. 22:22-24 – a betrothed virgin lies with another man – death penalty. Joseph’s a kind man – doesn’t want Mary dead – limit her humiliation – divorce secretly. No prolonged legal battle in those days – just needed two witnesses – Betrothal – legally binding – a year before consummation.
· Vs. 20 – “As he considered” – wrestling when angel appears – “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife – what she says is true.” Or, “You think the right thing to do is to divorce her quietly. The right thing to do is to marry in spite of how it’s going to bring shame on you.”
· It would take more courage to take Mary as his wife than to divorce her secretly because people are going to know. When she gives birth, the math won’t add up – either they were guilty of having sex before their wedding ceremony, or the child is not Joseph’s.
· Joseph has done nothing wrong but now he will be brought to shame because of Mary – he would take her shame as his own. Pharisees to Jesus in John 8 – “You don’t even know your father.”
· What an inconvenience to Josephs’ life! He had plans, a dream, his whole life ahead of him, and now he would live life disgraced.
· The Christian life is often life of inconvenience:
o A call to accept disgrace for what you believe. (You’re arrogant! You’re closed minded, ant-intellectual, etc. How can you believe that?)
o A call to serve when you don’t want to. (Joseph serving Mary when he didn’t understand. Raising a kid that wasn’t his.)
· What we want is convenience and comfort – not inconvenience! Christian life seems like inconvenience, but rather it’s an invitation to join God in His rescue mission. Reality: Living for the mission of seeing people eternally saved is far more important than living for the conveniences of this life. It’s worth the inconvenience to invest, serve, share, go, give, etc.
2. Courage is a willingness to live under God’s authority.
· God is calling Joseph to a life of inconvenience – to take on Mary’s shame. But, it’s not only a calling to a life of inconvenience, it’s a calling to live completely under the authority of God.
· “You shall call His name Jesus.” God tells Joseph what to name the child. Essentially, God saying to Joseph. “You don’t get to name him. Yes, you’ll raise the child, but he’s not yours. He’s mine. I name him. You have no claim on his life. This baby who will be in your home is mine. You’ll raise him according to my will.” Think of the privilege of naming a child. No one names the child but the parents. (Staci’s mom – Hudson River) When you name a child you say, “This child belongs to me.”
· How humiliating! Taking on Mary’s shame, adopting this baby as his own, but not getting to name the child or raising the child according to his hearts desires. “Forget your dreams about this child following in the family business, having his own family, and giving you grandchildren. This child is mine, and He’s coming to fulfill my plan. He’s coming to die.”
· Joseph has no claim on Jesus’ life. Instead, Jesus will have claim on Joseph’s life! Matthew goes out of the way to remind us that while Joseph was Jesus’ earthly father, Jesus ultimately belonged to the heavenly Father. (Matt. 1:16)
· This is courage! A willingness to live under the authority of God. “God, whatever you say, that’s what I’m going to do.”
· Living under God’s authority means:
o You give up your conditions. (Joseph couldn’t say, “I’ll take Mary, I’ll raise this child, as long as I can raise him my way.”) But, we put conditions on God all the time. “God, I’ll serve you as long as it’s not convenience.” “I’ll obey as long as I don’t have to sacrifice too much.” “I’ll give as long as I have plenty left over for me.” As soon as you put conditions on God you are saying that you are the authority, not Him. You are trying to place God under your authority.
o You give up ownership. Jesus didn’t belong to Joseph. Nothing really belonged to Joseph. Nothing belongs to you either. What God has given you, He’s given you to enjoy and to use for His Kingdom.
o You give up your desires. They didn’t even consummate their marriage until after the birth of Jesus! (Makes it obvious that Joseph is not Jesus’ father.) Technically, it would not have been wrong for Joseph to consummate his marriage, but he chooses a different way – to give up what He had the right to enjoy in order to protect reputation of Christ. This is complete submission! Virgin birth is so important because it proves the humanity and deity of Christ. Is the cause of Christ more important than your desires? (Giving up flying – not sinful, but not best use of time or money. You can think of good things in your life that may be getting in the way of what’s best. Too many hobbies, too much sports, etc. )
· Why live under the authority of God? Because the mission of God to save the world will not be accomplished unless God’s people put themselves under His authority.
3. Courage is a willingness to admit you’re a sinner.
· When you read the story, Joseph looks like a hero, and Mary needed a hero. She needed someone who would stand by her side as she walked through dark day of being disgraced by her family and her community.
· Joseph had courage to be inconvenienced and marry Mary – heroic. He had the courage to live God’s way – give up his desires, etc. – heroic. Joseph is noble, courageous, and heroic.
· Reality – Joseph isn’t the hero of the story. Joseph needed a hero. (vs. 21) Joseph, like Mary needed someone to rescue him – he was a sinner who had rebelled against God. Jesus would be the hero that would come and rescue Joseph.
· Joseph seems heroic, and Joseph does display courage, but the One who is really courageous in the Christmas story is not Mary or Joseph, but the baby born in the manger. Christmas is about the incarnation – that God would take on flesh – that the eternal Son of God would leave the glory of heaven and come and live in a broken world. And not only that He would come and live in a broken world, but that He would come with a death sentence. Jesus came to die. That was His purpose – His mission – The only way to save humanity was for the Son of God to come to a broken world, live a life completely pleasing to the Father, fulfilling the legal requirements of God’s law – and then suffering persecution and ridicule from the people He came to save – then going to a cross and dying a gruesome death where His body was tortured and where the Heavenly Father turned His back on the Son, and Jesus cried out – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Talk about courage! Jesus was willing to be forsaken by the Father so you would never have to be. He is the real hero! He is the hero who rose from the dead three days later securing eternal life for those who turn to Him in faith!
· Do you want to know what real courage is? Real courage is admitting you’re not the hero and admitting that you need a hero. Real courage is simply a willingness to admit that you’re a sinner.
· You may be here this morning and have yet to admit that you have a problem – a problem that is affecting your eternal destiny. You’ve never given your life to the one who can rescue you from sin and death. You’ve tried to be the hero of your own life. You’ve tried to give yourself meaning and purpose through your work, your religion, or the way you provide for your family. You’re not the hero. You need a hero. Turn to Christ.
· Believer: As you turn to the real hero – he’ll give you real courage. Are you courageous enough to walk by faith and be inconvenienced? To live under His authority? Maybe you’ve been a coward in your faith. Repent.