Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
The Angel to Joseph - Advent Mid-week 3 - December 19, 2012 - Text: Matthew 1:18-25
The angels became very prominent in the work of the Lord at the time of the birth of Jesus. Two weeks ago we talked about the angel that God sent to announce to Zachariah the birth of the one who would prepare the way for Jesus, John the Baptist. Last week we talked about the angel sent from the Lord who announce to Mary that she had found favor with God and would be the mother of God. In both of those narratives we were told that the angels name was Gabriel. This week we move on to talk about the angel who was sent in a dream to reassure Joseph that it was okay to take Mary as his wife because what was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit. This week, for whatever reason, we are not told the angel’s name.
Again, as we did last week, before we get to the actual announcement, let us take a moment to look at the message receiver. And interestingly enough, this will not be the only time the angel will appear to Joseph as we will find out later. Anyway, this Joseph of our text, this man chosen to be the father of our Lord, even the father of God, that is the adoptive father of Jesus was himself from the line of David, King David. Now let me remind you that one of the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah, the Savior of the world is that He would be from the line of King David and so Joseph meets that requirement. This is important information which substantiates Jesus claim to be the Messiah.
Joseph was betrothed to Mary and as we said last week, that meant that he was legally her husband. Even though they had not yet consummated their arranged marriage, they were, in the eyes of the community, in the eyes of God, for all intents and purposes, married. The only way to dissolve such a betrothal would be a legal divorce.
And about Joseph, we know that he was a just man. He was a fair man. He always looked to do the right thing. When he found out that his wife to be, his legally betrothed wife, was pregnant, because he loved her, already, he was unwilling to have her put to shame and worse to have her stoned to death which was the punishment for adultery, so he resolved to divorce her quietly. Because they were betrothed and legally married, divorce was his only option for dissolving the betrothal arrangement.
Now, for the angel and the angel’s message. Over the past couple of weeks we heard how the angel appeared in person, in flesh, to each of those involved in the announcement and birth of Jesus. This evening we hear that the angel did not appear in person, but in a dream. And please do not ask me why the Lord decided to deal with Joseph in this way, because I do not know, God does not tell us and so I would presume we do not need to know. The fact is that we are told in this narrative that the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.
As usual, as we have been hearing over the past couple of weeks, the first thing the angel announces to Joseph is words of comfort and a declaration of peace, to not fear. The angel explains to Joseph that Mary’s pregnancy is not because she has been promiscuous, not because she has committed adultery, but because she has been chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah. Mary has become pregnant by the power of God, by the Holy Spirit. And she has willingly and humbly agreed to take on that responsibility.
Further, the angel announced to Joseph the babies name, that is that this baby will be named Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. His name will be Emmanuel which means that God is with us. The angel gives this name to Joseph because he is the one who will be naming the child and in so doing, in naming the child he will be claiming the child as his own, adopting him to be his own son. In giving Jesus the name Emmanuel he will be stating the fact that God has come down, has intervened in human history, that God has taken on flesh and blood so that this child is truly human, born of the woman Mary, and truly divine, conceived by the Holy Spirit. This child will be our substitute and will defeat sin, death and the devil.
And as God’s Word always does what it say, the events happened just ast the angel announced. The prophecy of God through the angel was fulfilled. The virgin Mary did conceive, by the power of the Holy Spirit who overshadowed her. The child conceived in Mary’s womb was truly human, conceived of the woman, and truly God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, God Himself.
The child was born and the child was given the name, Immanuel, which means God with us. Just as God had promised, since the Garden of Eden; just as God reiterated to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Moses, to King David, all through Israelite history, God is breaking into human history to undo what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. God is intervening to do what humanity could not do, restore our relationship with God Himself.
The child is true God taking on human flesh. Jesus is one hundred percent God and one hundred percent human. No other person has ever or will ever be who Jesus is, just as God Himself promised.
The result of the action of the angel appearing to Joseph in the dream is that after Joseph awoke, he believed what he saw in his dream, and he obeyed the words of God given to him through the angel in the dream. Joseph took Mary as his wife, yet he did not have any relations with her until after the baby was born. Interestingly enough, God provided that Mary and Joseph should go to Bethlehem to register for the taxes which took them out of their small town and out of the gossip that may be been going around concerning those who did not know God’s plan for Mary and Joseph and may have intended to bring harm to Mary and her child.
Joseph cared for Mary his wife as he did for Jesus his adopted son. He provide a house and a home for Mary and Jesus. He labored to provide for food and clothing, just as any good father would. He love Mary and indeed they had other children as the Lord blessed them.
And Joseph adopted Jesus as his own son by naming Him. By giving Jesus the name the angel told him to give Him, Jesus announcing that this was his child.
What does this mean? Again we notice this evening, it was not Joseph who approached God. Notice also, it was not because he was blameless that God reassured him. If this statement were true, then we would naturally point to ourselves and we would be the reason that God does what He does. Because we now that we are not the prime movers, but that God is the Prime Mover, we know that it was God who chose Mary and now Joseph as her husband. It was God who chose to reassure him in a dream. It was God who chose Joseph for the awesome duty to be the father, albeit the adoptive father of Jesus. It was God who chose to send His unnamed angel to bring him the message of the coming events. As always, it always begins with God.
Throughout the Old Testament God told His people, you and me included, what was going to happen. Now we are getting God’s fulfillment of these promises. Now we can be certain, from the promises and from the fulfillment that Jesus is who He says He is. Jesus is God in flesh. Jesus is God who is a God with power. God’s Word is a Word with power, the power to do what He says. As we continue our preparation to celebrate Jesus’ birth, may we do so in all faith and confidence that this was ordained and accomplished according to God’s good and gracious will and so is efficacious for our salvation. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.