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 21, 2016
God Comes to Joseph - December 21, 2016 - Advent Midweek 4 - Text: Matthew 1:18-25
This evening we come to what must be the most difficult task for the angel, maybe that is why he appeared to Joseph in a dream. Joseph had found out that his betrothed, his legal wife and yet wife to be, the young woman he loved dearly, as his plan of dealing with the situation would suggest, was pregnant, and he knew that it was not his child. Certainly he wanted to think the best, but what best is there in this situation? After all, a person cannot get pregnant by accident! Or, by herself. So, again, we have God intervening in the lives of His people to assure that things go according to His plan.
But first, as we have been doing, as we did with Zechariah and Elizabeth and as we did with Mary, let us get to Joseph and begin by answering the question, what do we know about Joseph? Well, we do not know very much about him. We know that he was Mary’s husband (v. 19). He was betrothed to her and that meant that they were legally married. As we said last week, they had not yet consummated the marriage, but they were legally married and so Joseph would have to file for a divorce in order to legally separate from her.
We also know that Joseph was a righteous man (v. 19). He shows his righteousness in that he did want to put the best construction on everything. He did want to believe the best about Mary. I believe it is obvious that he did love Mary and did not want anything bad to happen to her, like getting stoned to death according to the letter of the law. The law required that someone caught in adultery was stoned. And certainly being pregnant without being married qualifies for adultery. Our text does not tell us how Joseph knew that Mary was pregnant and our text does not say it, but there is a sense that Mary has told the story of the angel appearing to her and announcing that she would give birth to a Son, even to the Savior of the world and it might be that Joseph wants to believe it, but he just can not bring himself to do so.
Keeping things fair as we have the past two weeks, we must also admit that although our text tells us that Joseph is a righteous man, I believe we would still believe that he is still not worthy, in and of himself, to be a part of God’s plan of salvation. Although we may know little about Joseph’s life, history, family, etc, we do know that he too, just as you and I were, he was conceived and born in sin and we might surmise that there is nothing within himself that would make him worthy of being a part of God’s plan. Again, we see that it is by God’s grace, because the Lord chose him, that he has a part in God’s plan of salvation. And we might even say that his part in God’s plan was his part even if by his own reluctance.
Now let us look at what happened in his dream? We are told that the angel appeared to him in a dream (v. 20). And notice that we are not told the name of the angel who appeared to him. We might believe it to be the same angel that appeared to Zechariah and to Mary, the angel Gabriel, but we are not told in the text. We are simply told that an angel appeared to him in a dream. We are not told why the angel did not appear directly to him as he did to Zechariah and Mary, but that the angel appeared in a dream. Yet, this is the way the Lord directed the angel to come to Joseph and this is the way he came.
The angel explained that Mary was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit (v. 20). He does not go into as much of an explanation as he does to Mary, but he assures Joseph that what is happening is happening by a miracle of God. This is God’s will, it is God’s plan, it is His doing, Mary was chosen by God for this important roll in history. Mary is a willing participant because she is submitting to the will of God Himself. Mary has not been unfaithful, as a matter of fact she has been the most faithful of all, especially because her faithfulness has its beginning in being faithful to God.
The angel explained to Joseph that he was to give the child the name Jesus. This giving of the name is important because in giving Jesus His name, Joseph is made to be the adopted, human father (v. 21) of Jesus.
But there is more to this name than just Joseph’s adoption of Jesus as his legal, earthly son. The angel also explained that this child was to be named Jesus because the name Jesus means Savior. The name Jesus apply expresses what He will do, that is that He will be the Savior of the world. Jesus will be the fulfillment of all the Old Testament (v. 22-23) prophecies concerning the One promised in the Garden of Eden, the One reiterated in promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One to which all the Old Testament pointed.
Finally our text tells us that Joseph awoke and did as the angel commanded (v. 24-25). There was now no question in his mind. There was now no doubt in his mind. And unlike Zechariah and Mary, Joseph did not ask any questions of the angel. Joseph shows his righteousness in his actions of fulfilling his plan of taking Mary for his wife, adopting Jesus as his son and providing a family for both.
So, now we have seen God provide a “way preparer” for the coming Savior in the person of the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the person of John the Baptist. God also has now provided Jesus with an earthly mother and a way to be born as a human being. And He has provided Him with an earthly father. God is doing the things that He needs to do in order to save the world, His creatures, you and me, who have and who continue to rebel and sin against Him.
As we continue to prepare ourselves for our Christmas celebration, we are again reminded of God’s plan of salvation. God’s plan which He began when He gave His promise to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden immediately after they fell into sin. We continue to prepare ourselves as we see the difficulty God had in working with us sinful human beings in order to save us.
We again see God intervening in human history to fulfill His promise. Our text is quite clear as it reminds us that the child will be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” God is intervening in human history as He takes on flesh and blood. God the Creator is becoming one with His creation in order to save us from our sins and eternal destruction.
For the fourth week in a row we see that with God all things are possible. We say that we believe that, at least with our lips, but unfortunately, so often we act as if we do not believe it. In a very real way we act much like the righteous man, Joseph, making our own plans to get done that which we believe needs to be done without consulting God who is the one who is actually in charge and can and does do according to what He knows is best for us. Unfortunately for us, I do not believe that God will necessarily send an angel to us in a dream to make sure that our actions conform to what our lips speak.
Joseph may not have completely understood all that the angels was telling him, but he believed and showed he believed by acting accordingly. He took Mary as his wife. She gave birth to a Son and he called Him Jesus which means Savior.
This evening marks three days before Christmas Eve. Are we ready for the celebration? We have just a few days to complete our preparations. My prayer for you this week is that the Lord would continue to fill you with His Holy Spirit. That the Holy Spirit will continue to guide you as you review the events from the Holy Bible that lead up to and are a part of our Christmas celebration. That the Holy Spirit will continue to work through His Word to strengthen you in your faith, in your understanding of the events that are being described, and get you completely prepared for your celebration. And as He prepares you for your Christmas celebration I pray that He will also continue to prepare you for when He comes again with power and great might to take you to be with Himself in heaven for eternity. To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.