Lessons From Joseph

Pastor Matt Davis
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Learn from a almost forgotten Christmas Character

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Lessons From Joseph – Advent Week 1 – Matt 1:18-25 Pastor Matt Davis – Long Valley Bible Church Okay so, as part of our Christmas advent I will be going through a series of messages that revolve around the first coming of our Lord and Savior. Most of the time, we begin in Isaiah 53, and I decided this year to stray and focus on another character in the Bible that we do not hear much about. Today I want to talk about Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. What do we know about him? Well, we don’t know where he was born. We don’t know when he died. We don’t know other than what he did for a living and that he was married to Mary, and the stepfather of our Lord. We do not know anything about Joseph. And so he’s very overlooked in the Bible, there’s very few chapters that even include him. Yep, he was from the royal line of David. We know where he was born. We… And that’s about it. We don’t know anything else. But we do see a little bit of his character in the Christmas story and how he handled the situation. In Matthew 1 starring in verse, 18, we will read through verse 25. “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 a child in the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But when he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to 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. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which is spoken to the Lord by the prophet, saying, 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. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him and took unto him his wife: And knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.” These are some of the few verses we see of Joseph. We do see a little bit more like when they head out to Egypt fleeing King Herod, but after they leave Egypt and come back, he kind of drops out of the story altogether. We don’t hear anything more of him and we assume that he died because when Christ was on the cross. He looked to john and said be… you know, behold thy mother. And he instructed him to take care of Mary, which would have been the job of Joseph had he still been around. So we know he is no longer in the picture. It’s, I find it highly unlikely they divorced. So, more likely is that he had passed away and left Mary a widower. But in the story, we see the birth of Christ is on “the wise, when Mary was espoused to Joseph before they came together, she was found a child of the Holy Ghost.” So this tells us that Mary and Joseph are engaged. It refers to her… as her as her husband… or her his wife. Sorry. In the next verse, but they were not yet, officially married. They were engaged, they were espoused, have not been together. So in the Jewish ah wedding ritual. You are officially married when the groom goes and takes you away and consummated the marriage. This consummation has not yet happened; Mary still being a virgin. But it’s discovered that Mary is with child. Now, this says with the Holy Spirit and Joseph does not yet know this. So, Joseph in his mind, Mary has committed adultery on him. She is guilty of laying with another man. The law, at the time allowed for the husband, or the… the engaged person to put to death the woman that was found with another man, committing adultery. Well obviously she was with another man right? Because she’s a child and it wasn’t with Joseph. So it tells us in verse 19 that “Joseph her husband, being a just man, not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.” Joseph, he was obviously upset. And we can see his character here though. Though he was upset. He cared about her. He cared about the way he treated her and dealing with what’s going on now I can think of the character of people today. Man today if somebody cheated on their spouse within an hour, it’s all over Facebook right, everybody knows about it. I can’t… There’s not a day that goes by I don’t get on Facebook, and don’t see “single”, “engaged”, “complicated”. “Oh, so and so cheated on me! He’s so horrible.” Today we were in this culture of making this public. We’re in the culture of name shaming whoever it was that went against us the sad thing is sometimes we do it when there is no evidence of such thing happening. We just get suspicious and start lamb blasting them on Facebook and that’s the character of people today; so there is something to be said of the character of Joseph, in verse 19, because it says “not willing to make her a public example.” Although she was found a child that was not his and the law allowed for him to make a public example with the public stoning to be put to death, says that he was minded to put her away privily. In other words, he wanted to divorce her quietly, privately, no one would really know what was going on other than the inner workings of their family. So this talks to us about the character of Joseph. Joseph was mindful. Joseph cared. Joseph wanted to do right by the Lord and right by himself, but he did not want to do it in a way that mocked, that ridiculed, or that took away from the other party. So as we don’t know much about Joseph what we can learn from him is how we ought to act. When we get upset. We got to take the time to sit down. I’m sure this was not his first reaction. His first reaction was probably one of a rage. But we don’t see that recorded. What we see recorded, is that he took the time to think about it. He took the time to let God work on him and concluded to do this quietly. But before he could divorce her in verse twenty. While he thought on these things. Okay, this tells us that he was thinking on it. This was not a, a quick reaction; this was not a sudden out of anger, he outbursts and made a choice. He was thinking on these things, and “behold, the angel of the Lord appeared on to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, though Son of David, fear not to take into the Marry thy wife: for that which is conceived in her as of the Holy Ghost.” So he appears, Joseph is seemingly asleep. He’s either he’s asleep or he’s in deep thought that he’s basically in a dreamlike state. But the angel appears on to him and says, “Joseph out Son of David,” addressing him by name. He says, “fear not to take Mary,” Joseph said sorry not Joseph the angel says, “Joseph, we know that you’re thinking about putting her away. We know that she’s been found with a child but fear not, for the child is God Himself. Mary is entrusted to carry God. Fear not. And she shall bring forth the son and also call his name Jesus, for he shall save the people from their sins.” I can’t imagine what’s going through Joseph’s mind right now. Joseph is thinking whoa, I’m entrusted with the wife, carrying God in the flesh. I can’t imagine the millions of thoughts going through his head. You mean I’m responsible to take care of God. I’m responsible to raise God up. God I’m not, I’m not worth this, I’m not worthy. What if I goof up? What if I… What if I caused him to starve or to freeze or…? You know, having a baby a child is stressed enough! And then the knowledge that that child, you’re entrusted with is God… It says in verse 24 that “Joseph being raised from a sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took onto him his wife.” Okay this speaks to us the character of Joseph yet again. Joseph was willing to… to hear. He heard what the angel had to say. But he was willing to listen he… now I’m sure there’s conversation here we are not reading. I am sure that Joseph had questions for the angel. But we don’t see that what we do see those Joseph said “okay, Lord, I shall obey.” “And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and called his named Jesus” at the time that Jesus was born Mary was still a virgin. Now I skipped a couple verses here. In verse 23 it says, “Behold, a virgin shall be a child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” This is God in the flesh, our Lord, our Savior, the creator of the world with us. Think of how cool that is for the first time in the history of the world, God became incarnated and enter the world which he had created. He entered a dirty, filthy place. A sinful place, a place not fit for a god. And he came here in the fashion of a child. While we’re learning about Joseph today. I have a story for you: “One summer evening there was a violent thunderstorm. And the thunder and lightning was shaking the home. As this was going on a mother was tucking her small son into bed, and she was just about to turn out the light when he said, with the fearful voice, “Mom, will you stay in bed with me tonight?” She says, “I can’t dear. I have to go sleep with your daddy.” And after our long silence the child said “that big sissy.” Now, there are things that we associate with our fathers typical responses. “Dad, can I have $10 to go to the movie?” “Ask your mother.” Typical father response right? What? Yeah. “Dad, can I have $100 for that new video game?” “Do I look like I made money?” “Dad, it hurts. I’m cut.” “Don’t worry about it it’s only blood.” Right? Or how about this one? This applies to more than fathers, because I’m not yet a father and I use this one. They’re sleeping and their wife or kid turns the TV off. “Don’t touch that I was watching that.” They’re dead asleep but the moment that TV turns off or the channel changes. Don’t touch that I was watching that. How about this one: They are driving and refuse to use a map or GPS and they get turned around, don’t know where they’re going and the wife and kids are begging, “Dad just use the GPS, just ask for directions.” “I’m not lost. I know where I’m going.” Right? No they don’t. How about this one: “A little dirt never heard anything just wipe it off.” Yep. There we go. So, there are there are these typical responses from our fathers that we can laugh at because they’re true. We could go on but one thing that’s an interesting note is as we look through the Bible. The very few verses and chapters that contain any information about Joseph, we never see any quotes from him. We never see any advice. He never really talks or discusses. He is quiet. In fact, while I had never thought about this before today when preparing for this, Joseph never says a word throughout the Gospels. He only listens. What can we learn from Joseph, the stepfather of Christ? I think we do a whole lot of talking. But we don’t give God enough time to answer. But we start getting on our knees and we start talking to God about, “we need this” and “we want that” and “help us here” or “help us there”. And we never stopped pleading for help, long enough to listen to God, answer us and give us direction. We start saying “God this is what I want to do.” And we never just quietly listen for the small, small still voice saying, “Matt. This is what I want you to do.” We never see a word from one of the most important people in the Bibles, I mean this is the guy and trusted to raise up the Lord. He must be pretty important. And yet he never speaks a word. He listens. Now we might assume. And we can assume that he has talked. I’m sure he is has spoken to Mary and informed Mary what they were going, going to call the son. I am sure when they got to that inn that he spoke to the innkeeper. So while we can assume that he talked, there is something to learn from the fact that there’s an absence of his words recorded in the Bible. It is widely thought that Joseph was much older than Mary. And when Jesus began his ministry, Mary appears to be alone. And the Bible doesn’t say she’s a widow. So, either he died or he is just so quiet that there is nothing to say. Now Joseph probably thought his life was pretty well planned out his marriage, his vocation, they were all arranged neatly for him. He was a carpenter, had a good job. He had his wife lined up, and then his world came crashing down. He discovered his bride to be is pregnant and knowing Joseph to be a man of integrity He wanted to do the right thing, in the right way, and consider divorcing her. And when he learned of this pregnancy being of God, he instead risks being questioned about Mary’s pregnancy, before he marries her. Because surely, surely has friends and family were going to start talking about that pregnancy. They knew they weren’t wed, yet they knew she was pregnant, and he risks the questions. He risked… risked his integrity. He risked where he could have been a public disgrace. In those days, a marriage contract was worked out between families, and the engaged couple continue to live with their parents until their wedding. The townspeople could well have thought Mary and Joseph did not wait until their marriage. Joseph protected the reputation however by moving up the wedding date. And the Roman census took them far away from the talents questioning eyes. Remember they had to leave where they were. They had to travel to Bethlehem. Now although Joseph came from the royal lineage of David, and we know this thanks to the gospel genealogy, we can easily picture him as a humble man. The brief portrait of him in the scripture suggests that he is quiet, unobtrusive, available when needed, and willing to endure hardship and disappointment. I can’t think of being willing to endure hardship and disappointment more than being willing to father the Lord. That alone is is got to be a weight on the shoulders, but then we see they had to flee their hometown and they had to flee Nazareth and go to Egypt and wait for the death of King Herod, you know, all these hardships. He thought his life was all planned next thing he knows he’s a father, but he never fathered anyone; he’s gotta flee and run away to Egypt and hide there for 12 years until the death of Herod. Actually, the death of Herod was one to two years after the birth of Christ. But it took about 12 years before they came back. All these things that stressed him and he’s willing to endure it. You know he he was looking forward to fathering his own child and we know that he had two have his own. Two sons to come. James, the author of the Epistle of James, one of them. And he is faced with being a stepfather, to a child not his own. He accepted the humbling circumstance surrounding the birth of Christ. He trusted the Providence… the providential care of God every step of the way. Though he had no parenting books, no training on how to be the father to the Son of God, but he possessed faith and compassion. Bible scholars portray Joseph as an effective provider and protector of the family. And boy was he. As we read the birth of Christ I want to give honor today, not worship, but honor to a man greatly overlooked in the Bible. Joseph was tasked with one of the… one of the greatest tasks the world has ever known. He had a care for a child who was not… not only not his own but God. He had to change his whole way of life and living. From another church I have a couple paragraphs to read: A Sunday school was putting on a Christmas pageant, which included the story of Mary and Joseph coming to the inn. One boy wanted so very much to be Joseph, but when the parts are handed out the boy didn’t like the part he was given and was assigned to be the innkeeper instead. He is pretty upset about this but didn’t say anything to the director. During all the rehearsals, he thought what he might do the night of performance and even get with the rival who got to be Joseph. Finally the night of the performance, Mary and Joseph came walking across the stage and knocked on the door the end and the innkeeper open the door and asked them gruffly what they wanted. Joseph answered we would like to have a room for the night. Suddenly the innkeeper threw the door open one and said, “Great, come on in ,and I’ll give you the best room in the house.” What a way to get back, right? Change the story because he didn’t get the part. This, this changes the entire pageant. I’m improvising the story now because I’m not reading. This changed what happened and change the story. So, now, Joseph who had no words, had to improvise for a few seconds the poor little actor playing Joseph didn’t know what to do. Thinking quickly on his feet he looked inside the door past the innkeeper and said, “No wife of mine is going to stay in a dump like this. Come on, Mary, let’s go to the barn,” and once again the play was back on track. Improvision at its finest. But the play still ended the way the Bible says it should have ended. Now in all the Christmas pageants performed Joseph doesn’t get a starring role, but his part is so important; his task is to keep Mary, and the baby Jesus. Joseph had the important role of caring for the needs of others. Now when our life, here’s what we’re going to take away from today’s turn, when our lives take a nasty turn, we can cry out, but Joseph must have cried out “God, how can this be.” But, like Joseph, we hear a still small voice of God saying “Trust me, Joseph. Trust me, Matthew. Trust me, Kenny.” God’s ways are not always our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, we may never understand everything that God is doing on his side of heaven, but God says, “Trust me, and all things will work together for the good.” It’s been said the best thing a father can do for his kids is to love his mother. Joseph’s love for Mary reflected Paul’s definition: “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy or boast. It is not proud or rude. It rejoices in truth, and always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes and love always perseveres,” in First Corinthians 13. Instead of being indignant Joseph accepted the child as his own; Joseph accepted the revealed will of God. He followed the instructions. He journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem, then to Egypt and back to Nazareth. We can easily picture Joseph receiving his son as a gift of God. Now I’m sure that Joseph could not have messed this up because… He felt like he could. I’m sure he was stressed, every waking moment of his life, but at least he trusted in God and I am confident, there was a heavenly protection, an army of angels around that family, as they grew up. God was that and nothing happened to little baby Jesus. Joseph became a father to the Messiah who would teach us all about the acceptance and grace of God. Joseph is charged with naming their son and thus defining his mission, the name Jesus means Savior. Archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of sephorus, a thriving city near Nazareth. It is believed that Joseph spent much time their work in his carpentry jobs, probably with his son, the apprentice, Jesus. When Jesus returned from his hometown the people responded. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph, the carpenter?” They knew who he was. Was Joseph a perfect father? Not at all. We can see after they were born, they were in Egypt when they were leaving, they got out of the city and with the camels and started leaving and realized, wait a minute. We’re missing something. They inventory and realize we’re missing the Savior. They have to turn back and they find him teaching in the temple courts. He was certainly not perfect but in spite of that, he did a swell job of raising the Lord. Parents can tell their kids how to live but they cannot make moral persons, they can baptize their children but they can’t make them believe they cannot their children, but they can’t give them eternal life. The influence of parents is important, but we individually need to choose to accept or reject faith in God. Now there is a lot I would like to know about Joseph, where and when he was born how he spent his days what he said. When and how he died. I would love to know these things. The last we hear of him is when he made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem with Mary and Jesus when Jesus was 12 years old. He was apparently a man of few words. But he did what he was supposed to do. We don’t know much about him, we’re pretty sure he wasn’t afraid of thunderstorms however. Scriptures left us with the most important knowledge of who he was. Matthew 1:18 tells us that he was a righteous man. He obeyed. Joseph may have thought that being righteous involved doing the proper thing, and he found out, it’s also about being the right person. Let us learn from the story of Joseph to listen to God; to be willing to trust when our circumstance changes, when it’s not the way we plan our life. Let us be willing to adapt. And let us be willing to allow God to work with us and get on his plan, not ours. Even when we do not understand it. This here is about the most amazing thing that ever happened, a virgin conceiving, and a young man, or old, we don’t know his age, but a young man taken a wife with child to be his own. Due to the actions, and God knew this ahead of time but, due to the actions of this young man we have the Lord and Savior that we’ve come to know, as Jesus Christ. He came as Emmanuel, God with us, that we can be saved and John 3:16, it says that “God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” This is the purpose for the Incarnation and coming, the first advent of our Lord and Savior. As we go through the month of December, coming up, let us remember our Savior’s birth. Let us reverence, the events that happen. Let us praise and glorify that he came as a precious baby, that he grew up to identify with us in the works that he did, and lets celebrate the birth of the single most important person to ever live. Let’s pray. Father God or Jesus Lord we thank you for Joseph, and even though we don’t we don’t know a whole lot about him. We do know the important parts: we know that he was chosen of you to be the father of your son, we know that he was righteous, and we know that he listened and obeyed. And so Lord we’re grateful for Joseph today. We’re grateful for his actions. We’re grateful for the way he responded when things are not the way he thought they should be. We’re grateful for that example and Lord, let us live that example now, let us learn to listen, to have patience, to have love, and to get on board with your team. Lord, today we praise you, and we… were so grateful for the season. Let our hearts rejoice, Lord, for the birth of our Lord, our king, our Savior. Let us rejoice for the work that you did and remember this event: the first… your first advent and Lord as we remember this Advent, let us look to the second advent that’s to come, to your second coming. And we hold fast and wait for that day to come. We praise you and glorify You and asked you to be with us in Jesus, precious beautiful name. Amen.
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