In Matt 1:18-25 we read, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (19) Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. (20) But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (24) Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: (25) And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
Joseph, the husband of Mary, is the forgotten man of Christmas. He never speaks a word in the biblical record. He is Joseph the silent. He ranks only slightly higher than an extra in the cast. But Joseph deserves more than that. Remember this phrase; I have used it often, "What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say." Of Joseph we might say, "What he did speaks so loudly that there was no need for him to say anything." Joseph is remarkably simple, but he also is simply remarkable!
It would be difficult to imagine a more complicated and devastating situation than the one in which Joseph found himself. He had a bride who was pregnant because of a strange involvement with God. Joseph bore the condemnation and pressure of a community that would not, and could not possibly understand. He was a northern Palestinian cabinetmaker who was told by God to go to Bethlehem, and then suddenly instructed to flee to Egypt.
Joseph’s response can be stated in a single, simple word: OBEDIENCE. He obeyed God immediately. God spoke and Joseph married Mary. He obeyed God in painful circumstances. Mary and Joseph were betrothed or engaged. According to Jewish tradition, step one was the consent phase. Consent was usually reached when the girl was 12 or 13 years of age. During this time, the girl continued to live with her parents. However, this was regarded as a legally ratified marriage. The second step was the formal transferal of the bride to the husband’s home, where he assumed her support. She was to be taken to his home chaste, a virgin. Between steps one and two, Mary was found to be pregnant. All kinds of thoughts and options must have flooded Joseph’s mind. To be the object of suspicion and back-street criticism in a little town like Nazareth was not easy.
He obeyed in spite of fear. Joseph was terrified to learn of his wife’s virgin pregnancy. God told Joseph, "Fear not." In spite of his fear, Joseph obeyed. He obeyed God by staking everything on God’s word alone. Joseph received a word from God that came to him in a dream. He believed God and staked his life and future on that conviction. When instructed by God to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, Joseph did as he was told. He accepted the consequences of obedience because he trusted God.
While Joseph is often the forgotten man of Christmas, his example can be an enormous challenge, blessing and inspiration to us all. May our heart’s desire this Christmas be obedience to God!
Again, in our 42nd year of ministry, it has been wonderful to KNOW and EXPERIENCE how GOOD and FAITHFUL our God is all the time. It has been our humble privilege to share with you the Weekly SERMON throughout this past year. Now, as we have shared with you, perhaps you would share with us. Would you be so kind as to drop us a note telling how these Weekly SERMONS have been a blessing to you. And even though we do not charge for the Weekly SERMON, we do have weekly expenses, therefore a gift would greatly help and be very much appreciated.
Because of the CRADLE, the CROSS, and the CROWN (Philippians 2:5-11), from our home to your home, we wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a Christ-centered and fruitful NEW YEAR in the Lord during 2009.
In His Amazing Grace,
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