Joseph Did

“Joseph Did”
Isaiah 7:10-16 Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph and Mary were pledged to each other. In that relationship they were called husband and wife but had not yet married…and they had no marital relations. The pledge was as legally binding as marriage. Joseph had a difficult decision to make. Being a righteous man he did not want to go against God’s laws. To marry Mary would be the same as admitting guilt…even though he was not guilty. To have a public divorce…which was the only way to end the relationship legally…would have exposed Mary to public disgrace. Joseph’s compassion would not allow him to do that to her. So…he decided to have a private divorce before two witnesses…then dismiss her quietly. That way he could maintain his reputation while still showing compassion to Mary.
Apparently…Mary had not explained her visit from the angel to Joseph. Joseph resolved to dismiss Mary only after her condition became visible. The angel’s words show that Joseph did not know that the Holy Spirit had played a role in Mary’s pregnancy. So…Joseph thought he had only two options…divorce Mary publicly or dismiss her quietly. But…God had another option.
When you stop to think about it…and listen to God…he’ll show us options that we might not have considered. Just as God showed Joseph the best option…He does that for us. We should always seek God’s wisdom in prayer and through intentional listening…turn off everything but your ears and heart…especially when our decisions affect others.
The angel called Joseph “son of David”…indicating that Joseph had a special role in a special event. The angel told Joseph to marry Mary and that the child to be born would be in the royal line of King David. Joseph was not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife…no matter what the social repercussions might be. The angel told Joseph that Mary had committed no sin. Instead…the angel said that the child conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit. God himself had caused this pregnancy…and the child would be very special…God’s son.
When facing big decisions….some people freeze with fright. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I miss God’s will? What if….?
To make good decisions…first take all of the worries and put them under God’s promise…God cares for you…watches over you and guides your steps.
Joseph came to the best decision he could on his own…but God had other plans and made them clear. Most of our decisions will not be overruled by angels…but that’s no reason for lack of confidence in God. To make good decisions…pray…evaluate all the options…talk with trusted friends and advisors…then act in faith. God is with you every step.
The angel’s message not only included a decision for Joseph…it also told him what was to come. The angel seemed to have no doubt that Joseph would hear and obey. Mary would give birth to a baby boy. Joseph was to name the child Jesus. The name means “the Lord saves” in Greek. Jesus’ name showed he would be the one who would bring God’s promised salvation. The baby Jesus would be born to save his people from their sins. From the very start Matthew attempts to explain that Jesus would not save the people from Rome or from tyranny. Nor…would he set up an earthly kingdom. Jesus would save people from sin.
Jesus came to earth to save us because we can’t save ourselves from sin and its consequences. No matter how good we are, we can’t eliminate all of our separation from God. Only Jesus can do that. He and he alone came to save each of us from the power and penalty of sin.
Throughout his Gospel Matthew loved to quote or mention Old Testament scripture to show how Jesus fulfilled it. An example comes from Isaiah this morning when Isaiah prophesied that the savior would be called Emmanuel or “God with us.” The point Matthew made was that Jesus’ role was to be God with us…that Jesus would bring God’s presence to us. Remember….Jesus Christ…who was himself God…brought God to earth in his human body…living…eating…teaching…healing… dying. Matthew closed his gospel with the same promise. Jesus promised his followers he would be with them always…”even to the end of the age.”
Now… the angel had spoken to Joseph in a dream. When he awoke…Joseph did what the angel of the Lord had commanded…immediately. Joseph had been faced with a difficult choice after discovering that Mary was pregnant. Although he knew that…according to the custom of his time…taking Mary as his wife might be humiliating…Joseph chose to obey the angel’s command to marry her. He did not hesitate. The decision was no longer difficult for he simply did what he knew God wanted him to do. His action revealed four great qualities…righteousness… discretion and sensitivity…responsiveness to God…and self-discipline.
Joseph broke with tradition and took her as his wife…even though the customary one-year waiting period had not passed. Joseph did as God commanded and completed their marriage by taking Mary to live with him. No matter what others might think or say…Joseph knew God’s command…and followed it…in marrying and caring for Mary during her pregnancy.
Joseph changed his plans quickly after learning about God’s plan for his life from the angel. He obeyed God and proceeded with the marriage plans. Although others may have disapproved of his decision…Joseph went ahead with what he knew was right. Sometimes we avoid doing what is right because of what others might think. Like Joseph did…we must choose to obey God rather than seek the approval of others…rather than stick with man’s rules and ways that leave others hurting and alone…rather than be someone who is hurting and alone.
Joseph did.