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Joseph's Story

The Christmas Story  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This is a narrative sermon telling the Christmas Story from Joseph's perspective.

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Joseph’s Story

There weren’t many surprises for me growing up in Israel. From the moment I took my first breath, everyone expected me to grow up, marry, have children and die in this village. I would learn my father’s trade as he had his father’s before him. We’re Jewish and our religious customs touched every aspect of our lives. I would learn the Torah, observe the Sabbath, and celebrate the feasts. God will bless me if I love Him and keep His commandments.
I’m blessed with godly parents. My father is my teacher. He’s not a talker in a crowd, but when it is just him and me, he’s never at a loss for words. I learn by watching him, listening to him and discussing things with him. He’s great at carpentry and better with people. I’ve watched him calm cantankerous customers and treat them honorably, even when they mistreated him. He never speaks ill of anyone. If he gets upset, it's because of an injustice to someone else. He’s generous and always gives people the benefit of the doubt. People often go to him for advice. I want to be like him.
There weren’t many surprises for me as a boy growing up in Israel. From the moment I took my first breath, everyone expected me to grow up, marry, have children and die in the village where I was born. I would learn my father’s trade and follow in his footsteps. In addition to that, we’re Jewish which means our lives include religious expectations. Our goal is to observe the Law of Moses. That means we keep the Sabbath, celebrate the feasts, and, if possible, travel to Jerusalem each year for Passover. We believe God will bless you if you live your life according to His Law. I didn’t want or expect anything different. Yet, sometimes things don’t go as planned. It is possible to do everything right and still suffer.
I’m blessed with godly parents. My father is my teacher. He’s not a talker in a crowd, but when it is just him and me, he’s never at a loss for words. I learn by watching him, listening to him and discussing things with him. He’s great at carpentry and better with people. I’ve watched him calm cantankerous customers and treat them honorably, even when they mistreated him. He never speaks ill of anyone. If he gets upset, it's because of an injustice to someone else. He’s generous and gives people the benefit of the doubt. People often go to him for advice. I want to be like him.
We have plenty of opportunity to talk while on the job and our favorite topic is God's word. I remember the day he told me we are descendants of King David. For weeks I peppered him with questions about our famous ancestor.
We have plenty of opportunity to talk while on the job and our favorite topic is God's word. I remember the day he told me we are descendants of King David. For weeks I peppered him with questions about our famous ancestor.
My father, like me, is of average height and build. I am strong but don’t possess his remarkable strength, perhaps honed from years of carpentry. He’s not a talker in a crowd, but when it is just him and me, he’s never at a loss for words. Most of what I’ve learned has been by watching him, listening to him and discussing things with him. I have seen him treat cantankerous people fairly and even when they mistreated him, never speak ill of them. He has a reputation as a skilled carpenter but is known even more so for putting people first. Growing up I never imagined how much I would depend upon his willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt. I want to be like him.
We spend more time on the job talking about God and His word than any other topic. I’ll never forget the day he told me we are descendants of King David and one of our relatives would be God’s Messiah. He told me of God’s promise bring his Messiah into the world which would usher in the kingdom of God. I remember wondering what that will be like and was fascinated to think He will be my relative.
He also taught about the Messiah who would be greater than King David. He will rule the entire world, not just Israel, and He, also, will be one of our relatives. When he told me that I jumped up. “Father, can I be the Messiah?”
He also taught about the Messiah who would be greater than King David. He will rule the entire world, not just Israel, and He, also, will be one of our relatives. I jumped up. “Father, can I be the Messiah?”
He stopped working, walked over and took his time looking at me all around. I stood as tall as I could. “No, son, I don’t think you will be the Messiah.”
He stopped working, walked over and took his time looking at me all around. I stood as tall as I could. “No, son, I don’t think you will be the Messiah.”
One day my father's conversation about marriage changed from theoretical to practical. He asked me if I were ready to find a wife and start my own family. I told him I was which began the process that led to my betrothal to Mary. There are many potential wives in the village, and I am certain God has blessed me with the best one of all. It turned out that Mary is also from King David's line, but is a distant relative.
I slouched, dropped my head and turned to leave but before I could, he stopped me. “God has something special for you to do, Joseph.”
I slouched, dropped my head and turned to leave. He stopped me. “You, too, are special to God, Joseph.”
My father and I had many more discussions about being married. It was his intention to be sure I was prepared for to enter marriage. There was nothing he could've said that would have prepared me for what happened.
We often talk about the Messiah. It’s one of father’s favorite topics. It isn’t all we discuss. We talk about morality, politics, family and marriage. One day our discussion about marriage changed from theoretical to practical. He asked if I were ready to find a wife and start my family. It didn’t surprise me he asked. I was the right age. Yes, I was ready. He smiled, nodded and continued working.
A short time after our betrothal Mary told me she was going to visit her cousin Elizabeth. I was surprised until she told me that Elizabeth, although beyond the normal years of childbirth, was pregnant. She wanted to go and help her. I agreed then was willing to take her, but she said her family would make sure she arrived safely. She was gone for three months. When she returned, she seemed different. I couldn't say why I felt that, but she did.
We often talk about the Messiah. It’s one of father’s favorite topics. It isn’t all we discuss. We talk about morality, politics, family and marriage. One day our discussion about marriage changed from theoretical to practical. He asked if I were ready to find a wife and start my family. It didn’t surprise me he asked. I was the right age. Yes, I was ready. He smiled, nodded and continued working.
My parents found me a godly young woman, Mary. She is also from King David's line, but is a distant relative. Both families agreed. Thanks be to God.
Soon after she returned, we had the opportunity to talk privately. I was anxious to hear all about her time away, and how Elizabeth was doing. I wasn't prepared for what she told me. She explained that before she left to visit Elizabeth the angel Gabriel visited her. Gabriel told her that she, although she was still a virgin, would become pregnant and give birth to the Messiah. She didn't know how to tell me and went to Elizabeth, both to help her but also for advice. She said that Elizabeth's pregnancy was also of God, and that her son would be the forerunner to the Messiah.
My parents found me a godly young woman, Mary. She is also from King David's line, but is a distant relative. Both families agreed. Thanks be to God.
A short time after our betrothal Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth who lived a good distance from us. It surprised me until she told me Elizabeth, even though she was past the normal age for bearing children, was pregnant.
A short time after our betrothal Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth who lived a good distance from us. It surprised me until she told me Elizabeth, even though she was past the normal age for bearing children, was pregnant.
I listened carefully to every word she said, but couldn't believe her. I know the stories in the Bible of women who were unable to get pregnant that God blessed with children. But all of them were married women. Nowhere in the Bible or in the history of mankind had a woman ever become pregnant who was a virgin. I didn't want to think about how she got pregnant. In our brief conversations together, she seemed like a godly young woman. This story that she told me was just two incredible to believe. The only thing I was certain of was that I was not the father, and I didn't want to have anything to do with her or the baby.
Mary returned three months later. She changed. I couldn't say how, but I knew she had. The change was slight. She looked different, seemed different. I joined with her family and we had a festive time in welcoming her home. She pulled me aside and said we needed to talk privately as soon as possible. I sensed something was wrong and when I asked her about it, she would only say we needed to talk. That night I slept fitfully. The next day I was uncharacteristically quiet at work. Father asked me about it and I said something was wrong with Mary. I’d find out and tell him later.
I thought about it for a while and wanted to talk with my father about it, but I couldn't. I was too ashamed. Finally, I decided the best thing to do was to divorce her quietly. It would be best if she were to move away and not experience the shame of being an unwed mother.
Mary returned three months later. She changed. I couldn't say how, but I knew she had. The change was slight. She looked different, seemed different. I joined with her family and we had a festive time in welcoming her home. She pulled me aside and said we needed to talk privately as soon as possible. I sensed something was wrong and when I asked her about it, she would only say we needed to talk. I slept fitfully and uncharacteristically quiet at work. Father asked me about it and I said something was wrong with Mary. I’d find out and tell him later.
I hurried to see her right after work. As I approached her house, I saw her pacing the room. She greeted me with a warm but weak smile. She didn’t look well. We sat facing each other, her hands folded on her lap.
My mind was made up and I was prepared to take action when I had a dream. In my dream an angel of the Lord appeared to me and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
I hurried to see her right after work. As I approached her house, I saw her pacing the room. She greeted me with a warm but weak smile. She didn’t look well. We sat facing each other, her hands folded on her lap.
She calmly said something incredible happened. An angel visited her. He came before she visited Elizabeth. The angel’s name is Gabriel. He said God highly favors her.
She said something incredible happened. An angel visited her. He came before she visited Elizabeth. The angel’s name is Gabriel. He said God highly favors her.
When I woke up, I realized Mary told me the truth. God sent an angel to speak to me.I had to do what God commanded me to do.
A few days had passed since I walked out on Mary. I immediately went to her and told her about my dream. She knew that I didn't believe her and felt so all alone since our visit. I explained that I had made up my mind to divorce her, which was when the angel came to me in a dream. I would not divorce her and because of where she was out in the pregnancy, we needed to get married immediately. We would not, however, consummate the marriage until she gave birth.
She paused, her eyes locked on mine. Gabriel said although she is still a virgin, she would become pregnant and give birth to the Messiah.
She paused, her eyes locked on mine. Gabriel said although she is still a virgin, she would become pregnant and give birth to the Messiah.
I winced and felt like someone knocked the air out me. An angel? Pregnant? The Messiah? My head was spinning!
It was going to be difficult to explain to her parents and my parents why we wanted to rush the wedding, but we had to do it. She was already beginning to show that she was pregnant, and within a short period of time everyone in the town would know. They would all assume the worst, but there was nothing they could do about that.
I winced and felt like someone knocked the air out me. An angel? Pregnant? The Messiah? My head was spinning!
We were married. It was a joyful occasion, but the gossip that we had to rush the wedding because of Mary's pregnancy diminished the day.
She couldn’t eat or sleep after Gabriel’s visit. She knew she had to tell me but each time she tried the fear of my rejection overwhelmed her. It was Gabriel who told her Elizabeth was pregnant. When she arrived at Elizabeth’s, she found out it was true. The same angel Gabriel told Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, that their son would be the forerunner to the Messiah my son.
She couldn’t eat or sleep after Gabriel’s visit. She knew she had to tell me but each time she tried the fear of my rejection overwhelmed her. It was Gabriel who told her Elizabeth was pregnant. When she arrived at Elizabeth’s, she confirmed it was true. The same angel Gabriel told Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, that their son would be the forerunner to the Messiah, Mary’s son.
Then she said, “I’m pregnant.”
Then she said, “I’m pregnant.”
I stood. Speechless. I didn’t believe her. The Bible stories about barren women that God blessed with children were all married women. Nowhere in the history of humanity had a virgin ever become pregnant. She was not the godly woman I judged she was. Did she really suppose I would accept this story? I was not the father. Heartbroken, I left without saying a word.
I stood. Speechless. I didn’t believe her. The Bible stories about barren women that God blessed with children were all married women. Nowhere in the history of humanity had a virgin ever become pregnant. Mary was not the godly woman I judged she was. Did she really suppose I would accept this story? I was not the father. Heartbroken, I left without saying a word.
I wanted to talk with father about it but couldn't. He asked what happened, but I was too ashamed to say. Finally, I decided. I would divorce her quietly. It would be best for her to move away and not experience the shame of being an unwed mother.
I wanted to talk with father about it but couldn't. He asked what happened, but I was too ashamed to say. Finally, I decided. I would divorce her quietly. It would be best for her to move away and not experience the shame of being an unwed mother.
Then I had a dream. An angel of the Lord appeared and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Then I had a dream. An angel of the Lord appeared and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
I awoke. Mary told me the truth. Her baby is the Messiah. I would do what God commanded me to do.
I awoke. Mary told me the truth. Her baby is the Messiah. I would do what God commanded me to do.
As soon as I could I rushed to Mary’s house. Her mother said she wasn’t feeling well. I apologized for disturbing her and said I needed to speak with her. Mary came out, her eyes searching mine. I wanted to blurt everything that happened but instead whispered, “I believe you.” She smiled, and the tears flowed.
As soon as I could I rushed to Mary’s house. Her mother said she wasn’t feeling well. I apologized for disturbing her and said I needed to speak with her. Mary came out, her eyes searching mine. I wanted to blurt out everything that happened but instead whispered, “I believe you.” She smiled, and the tears flowed.
We found a quiet place in a nearby garden. I told that because I didn’t believe her story, I decided to divorce her. Then, last night I had a dream. An angel confirmed everything she told me. It is incredible. I believe she is pregnant with the Messiah.
We found a quiet place in a nearby garden. I told that because I didn’t believe her story, I decided to divorce her. Then I had a dream. An angel confirmed everything she told me. It is incredible. I believe she is pregnant with the Messiah.
She wept more, and we thanked God for the amazing blessing of being the parents of the Messiah. Then we talked about getting married.
She wept more, and we thanked God for the amazing blessing of being the parents of the Messiah. Then we talked about getting married.
We would get married as soon as possible but would not consummate the marriage until Jesus was born. Mary was showing she was pregnant. Soon everyone in the village would notice and assume the worst about them.
We would get married as soon as possible but would not consummate the marriage until Jesus was born. Mary was showing she was pregnant. Soon everyone in the village would notice and assume the worst about them.
It would be difficult to explain to our parents why we wanted to rush the wedding, but we had to do it. We decided that we would each tell our parents separately. We would tell them the truth and hope and pray they would believe us. They didn’t.
It would be difficult to explain to our parents why we wanted to rush the wedding, but we had to do it. We decided that we would each tell our parents separately. We would tell them the truth and hope and pray they would believe us. They didn’t.
Both our parents had the same reaction. Since we would marry soon, they wouldn’t disown us. Both stated that our actions brought shame on them and our family name. My father said it wasn’t unusual for a betrothed couple to get caught up in passion and begin their physical relationship before the wedding. I disappointed him because I didn’t tell the truth. Mary’s parents hardly spoke with me after that.
Our parents had the same reaction. Since we would marry soon, they wouldn’t disown us. Both stated that our actions brought shame on them and our family name. My father said it wasn’t unusual for a betrothed couple to get caught up in passion and begin their physical relationship before the wedding. I disappointed him I didn’t tell the truth. Mary’s parents hardly spoke with me after that.
Soon after, we got married. It was not the large, festive occasion we hoped to have, but Mary and I soaked in each moment. Our intention had been to live with my parents until I built a home. Now Father insisted we find our own place.
Soon after, we got married. It was not the large, festive occasion we hoped to have, but Mary and I soaked in each moment. Our intention had been to live with my parents until I built a home. Now Father insisted we find our own place.
I continued to work with him, but our conversations changed. They were mainly about work.
I continued to work with him, but our conversations changed. They were mainly about work.
One day I said to him, “Father, I am your son. We have spent day and night together all my life. You understand that I desire to love God and keep His commandments. You taught me the stories of God’s miracles. What happened to us is incredible. It seemed impossible to me until the angel visited me. You are familiar with the Scriptures. Isn’t it possible Mary and I are telling you the truth?”
One day I said to him, “Father, I am your son. We have spent day and night together all my life. You understand that I desire to love God and keep His commandments. You taught me the stories of God’s miracles. What happened to Mary is incredible. It seemed impossible to me until the angel visited me. You are familiar with the Scriptures. Isn’t it possible Mary and I are telling you the truth?”
“It’s possible.”
He nodded, “It’s possible.”
“Is there anything I can say to convince you?” I asked.
“Is there anything I can say to convince you?” I asked.
“I don’t think so,” he said.
“I don’t think so,” he said.
A few days later I brought up the subject again. “Father, I don’t everything you taught me about the Messiah, but I’ve been talking to our priest about it. The Messiah will come from our tribe, Judah. You told me that. I learned something this week I don’t remember us discussing. He told me the prophet Isaiah said, ‘Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call him Immanuel.’ Are you aware Isaiah said that?”
A few days later I brought up the subject again. “Father, I don’t everything you taught me about the Messiah, but I’ve been talking to our priest about it. The Messiah will come from our tribe, Judah. You told me that. I learned something this week I don’t remember us discussing. He told me the prophet Isaiah said, ‘Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call him Immanuel.’ Are you aware Isaiah said that?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Yes,” he said.
“Isn’t it possible that Mary is pregnant with the Messiah, even though she’s still a virgin?”
“Isn’t it possible that Mary is pregnant with the Messiah, even though she’s still a virgin?”
“It’s possible,” he said.
“It’s possible,” he said.
“Is this enough to convince you? Do you think our son is the Messiah?” I asked.
“Isn’t this enough to convince you? Do you think our son is the Messiah?” I asked.
“I don’t think so,” he answered.
“I don’t think so,” he answered.
Over the next few months I met with the priest, curious about my interest in learning about the Messiah. I would tell father what I learned and ask him again if he thought our son was the Messiah. He always answered, “I don’t think so.”
Over the next few months I met with the priest, curious about my interest in learning about the Messiah. I would tell father what I learned and ask him again if he thought our son was the Messiah. He always answered, “I don’t think so.”
One day we noticed a large group of people gathered at the village gate. Curious, we joined them. A Roman official was there and announced a census. Caesar Augustus issued a decree to count everyone in the entire Roman world. Each person had to register in their own town.
One day we noticed a large group of people gathered at the village gate. Curious, we joined them. A Roman official was there and announced a census. Caesar Augustus issued a decree to count everyone in the Roman world. Each person had to register in their own town.
This complicated things for me and Mary. We’re from Bethlehem. We had to register there for the tax. Mary was far along in her pregnancy, so I told her I would register us and return as quickly as possible. She wouldn’t agree and insisted on going with me. No one else believed our son is the Messiah. I had to be there for her when our son was born. Her faith was strong. Her pregnancy was from God. He would watch over her while we traveled.
This complicated things for Mary and me. We’re from Bethlehem. We had to register there for the tax. Mary was far along in her pregnancy, so I told her I would register us and return as quickly as possible. She wouldn’t agree and insisted on going with me. She reminded me that no one else believed our son is the Messiah. I had to be there for her when our son was born. Her faith was strong. Her pregnancy was from God. He would watch over her while we traveled.
I tried to convince her to stay in Nazareth. I finally found something that her parents, my parents and I agreed on. None us wanted Mary to make the trip to Bethlehem. It was safe. We would go in a large group by caravan. But it would be hard. It was a long journey, four or five days on foot. My father tried harder than anyone else to convince her to stay. She decided. She was going.
I tried over and over to convince her to stay in Nazareth. I finally found something that her parents, my parents and I agreed on. None us wanted Mary to make the trip to Bethlehem. We would go in a large group by caravan. But it was a long journey, four or five days on foot. My father tried harder than anyone else to convince her to stay. She decided. She was going.
My father approached me on the day of our departure. I thought he would give me last-minute advice for the journey.
My father approached me on the day of our departure. I thought he would give me last-minute advice for the journey.
“Have you learned everything about the Messiah?” he asked.
“Have you learned everything about the Messiah?” he asked.
It surprised me he wanted to talk about this now. I’d given up hope of convincing him. “No. Once I heard about the census, I stopped meeting with the priest. Why do you ask?”
It surprised me he wanted to talk about this now. I’d given up hope of convincing him. “No. Once I heard about the census, I stopped meeting with the priest. Why do you ask?”
“There is a prophecy you never mentioned. Micah prophesied about the Messiah. Are you familiar with what he predicted?” he asked.
“There is a prophecy you never mentioned. Micah prophesied about the Messiah. Are you familiar with what he predicted?” he asked.
“No, I’m not. Please tell me,” I said.
“No, I don’t. Please tell me,” I said.
“The prophet Micah said, ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’” He smiled. “Joseph, the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.”
“The prophet Micah said, ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’” He smiled. “Joseph, the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.”
“Father, is this why you didn’t think our child was the Messiah?” I asked.
“Father, is this why you didn’t think our child was the Messiah?” I asked.
He nodded.
He nodded.
“If our Son is born in Bethlehem, do you think it’s possible he is the Messiah?”
“If our Son is born in Bethlehem, do you think it’s possible he is the Messiah?”
“Yes, it’s possible,” he said.
“Yes, it’s possible,” he said.
“Based on everything I’ve told you, if our son is born in Bethlehem, do you think he is the Messiah?”
“Based on everything I’ve told you, if our son is born in Bethlehem, do you think he is the Messiah?”
“Yes, I think so,” he said.
“Yes, I think so,” he said.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them .
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them .
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