Last Sunday was our church’s anniversary service (8 years) so we had a special speaker.  Getting back to our series in the Gospel of Matthew this Sunday.  This sermon is for April 3rd, 2011.

Matthew part 2

The burden of a godly man.

Matthew 1:18-25 NIV – 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream 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. 21 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.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Introduction

Last time we looked at the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  This morning, we are looking into what takes place with Joseph leading up to the birth of Jesus.

There is not much known about Joseph really.  The most we know about him is actually written within our text this morning.  Thinking about Joseph, I’m sure he didn’t know that God was going to sign him up as the “step-dad” to the Savior of the world.  I mean what a difficult thing to be, really.  When he decided to marry Mary all was on his mind was raising a family, being a good husband and father, and being a good Jew, worshiping Yahweh.  But instead, God had other plans for Him, plans that I’m sure he never dreamed about.

I believe what little we know about Joseph from the text, we can see that he was a godly man; a godly man with a God-given burden.  This is what I will endeavor to be unpacking in the sermon this morning.  Let’s begin.

The burden.

Matthew 1:18 – This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Joseph had a two part burden.

  • The first part of the burden was the fact that Mary was pregnant, and Joseph was not the father.  Notice the Scripture says, “but before they came together.” This had to be heart-wrenching for Joseph.  Here is the woman that he was to be pledged too; they would start a family together, be known within the tight Jewish community, and before they have even come together, she is found to be pregnant.  Of course the story doesn’t end there for the Scripture says, “she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.”
  • And this leads us to the second part of the burden: since Mary was impregnated through the Holy Spirit, that means that the child within her womb is none other that God manifested in the flesh.  To any man, this is the greatest of all burdens: being God’s appointed person to be the earthly father to His One and only Son.

The love.

Matthew 1:19 – Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Two things we see about Joseph within the text.

  • Because he was faithful to the law, he wanted to divorce her.  Even though Joseph and Mary are not officially married, to be pledged to one another could only be broken the same way marriage could – through divorce – in the first century Jewish culture.  Here we see the love for God that Joseph had – was faithful to God’s Law.  I believe that it is safe to say from this short phrase that Joseph was a “man of the book.”
  • But because of his love for Mary, he wanted to divorce her quietly, thereby saving her life.  You see according to the law, Mary should have been stoned publicly for adultery, because no one would have believed that it was through the Holy Spirit that she was pregnant.  But Joseph did not want to see that happen.

The dream.

Matthew 1:20-21 – 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream 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. 21 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.”

God steps in and intervenes.

  • God’s plan was for His Son to be born to save His people from their sins.
  • His plan was also for Joseph to be the earthly father, therefore God stepped in through a dream by sending an angel to speak to Him.

Contents of the dream.

  • Joseph was to take Mary as his wife.
  • The child is from the Holy Spirit.
  • Joseph is to name the child Jesus.
  • This child will save God’s people from their sins.

While these are glorious truths, I believe we can call this a glorious burden that God has given to Joseph.

The fulfillment.

Matthew1:22-23 – 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

This birth was part of God’s plan.

  • This child was not God saying, “oh, I better do something now to save my people,” but it was always part of God’s plan.
  • 740 years earlier, through the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) God has prophesied this event.
  • Notice the child would be named Immanuel.  This does not mean that this should have been the child’s name instead of Jesus – but it represents the character of the child in the womb – He would literally be, “God with us” by being God manifested in the flesh.

The obedience.

Matthew 1:24-25 – 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Here we see the character of Joseph.

  • Notice that he didn’t question God, or ask for additional signs, he just woke up and did what was commanded him.  He didn’t care what people might say either, he’d rather obey God than fear the opinions of man.
  • He also did not use this as an excuse to go ahead and have sexual relations with Mary, though he could have according to the law because he took her as his wife.  He loved both God and Mary enough to wait until the baby was born.
  • And again we see the obedience to God by naming the child Jesus.

Conclusion

As we conclude, what can we apply from our text this morning?

  • We may have plans for our lives, but God’s plans will always super-cede our own.
  • And God’s plans may require us to carry a burden – but this burden will be a glorious one because it comes from Him.
  • In Christ, be obedient to the burden, even if it might on the surface end up badly for you.

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