Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Nativity - Part 3: Joseph

The Nativity
Part 3 - Joseph
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org


SCRIPTURE READING

Matthew 1:1-16 gives us the genealogy of the Messiah as a descendant of King David, as foretold in prophecy.

Verse 17 reads, “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

Those who study scripture know that numbers in the Bible have special meanings to the Hebrews.  We see here in Matthew that there were 14 generations between key figures and events multiple times from Abraham to the Messiah.

Fourteen being a multiple of seven, partakes of its significance; and, being double that number, implies a double measure of spiritual perfection.

Why did the evangelist Matthew signify this number in the genealogy of the Messiah?  To show that God had placed His signature on the lineage of Christ.  His hand had guided the people and events to bring about the Messiah’s birth in the manner and time of His choosing.

Example
         The Whole Armor of God in Ephesians 6:14-18 has seven pieces, prayer being the seventh.

We see in the following verses the scriptures explaining how Joseph accepts jesus as his son.







Matthew 1:18-24

 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.

I.                   JOSEPH, A MAN OF GODLY CHARACTER

a.      Joseph was of royal decent, as shown in Matthew 1:1-17

b.     Joseph was a righteous man of God (Matthew 1:19 Joseph her husband was faithful to the Law)

                                                             i.      We can see from the text that Joseph was a man of compassion, integrity, decency and love.

                                                          ii.      He was pledged to be married (marriage contract or engagement in modern language), this contract was equal to being married, though the celebration had not taken place as of yet and they had not physically been together.

1.      This marriage contract is equal to the covenantal contract for marriage the church has with Jesus through the acceptance of the New Testament.  Jesus tells us that the taking of communion is our acceptance of this contract.  Although we, the church, are not yet physically with Jesus and the seven year celebration has not yet taken place, we the church, are considered married and in a covenantal agreement (the New Testament) with Jesus Christ.

                                                       iii.      Joseph finding Mary with child, not yet knowing it was the Holy Spirit who placed the child there, did not want to expose Mary to public disgrace.

                                                         iv.      Therefore, he decided to have a quiet divorce.

c.      Joseph was obviously a man of integrity who honored God’s law, and loved others, especially Mary, whom he wanted to protect, even though he thought she had sinned.

                                                             i.      He was a man who honored God’s will in his life, and was totally committed to doing God’s will.

                                                          ii.      He was a humble man who was more concerned about what God wanted for him in his life, than what he wanted for himself.



II.               WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT JOSEPHS LIFE

a.      We know very little about the years of Jesus prior to His public ministry. The gospels are without notation of any childhood events beyond Christ's birth except one reference that is found in Luke. It is the very last time that Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, is ever mentioned.

                                                             i.      Luke 2:41-5141 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

b.     Knowing from scripture that Joseph was a righteous man, most assume that he did not abandon his family, but must have died at some point during the quiet years of Jesus’ life.

c.      We do know that he trained Jesus in the trade of carpentry.  We also know that Joseph and Mary had children after Jesus was born, James, Joses, Simon and others.

d.     Perhaps the cause or timing of his death is not nearly as important as the strength of character he displayed.

                                                             i.      In first hearing about Mary's pregnancy, Joseph did not want to subject Mary to public scorn. After hearing from the angel who confirmed Mary's incredulous story, Joseph obediently accepted the role as surrogate father for the baby Jesus, the Christ child.

                                                          ii.      Matthew 1:24-25 says, "When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."

e.      The last reference about Joseph in Luke confirms that Joseph was a devout follower of the customs of his religion with his observance of Passover. It implies that Joseph made certain of good spiritual training for the children in his family. Joseph proved his integrity and willingness to be obedient to God's direction and guidance.



III.            WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM JOSEPH

a.      Have you ever stood where Joseph stood?
                                                             i.      Caught between what God says and what makes sense?

                                                          ii.      Have you ever stared into the sky with doubt, and asked if you are still on the right road?

                                                       iii.      Have you asked if you were supposed to turn left when you turned right in life?

                                                         iv.      Have you asked God if there was a plan behind this scheme because things have not turned out like you thought they would?

b.     I think each of us knows what it is like to search for the light to guide us in the dark. 
                                                             i.      Perhaps not outside of a stable, but outside of a hospital room, funeral parlor or maybe even a graveyard?

                                                          ii.      We have asked questions, or questioned God’s plan.

                                                       iii.      Perhaps wondering why God does what He does.

                                                         iv.      The Bethlehem sky is not the first to hear the pleadings of an honest heart, nor the last.  Perhaps God did not answer every question for Joseph in his life, but He answered the most important one...answered through Jesus’ own words, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

c.      There may be many questions that go unanswered in life, and many times we may say to ourselves or others, “I wonder...”  But in our wonderings, there is one question we never need to ask, Does God care?

CONCLUSION

Did you know that God used Joseph in the life of Jesus in a powerful fashion?

No doubt, Joseph was very involved in the life and training of Jesus as a young man.   God took a poor, humble carpenter and used him to carry out an important heavenly mission.

Did you know that he is still looking for special people He can use to carry out His will in the world today?

I am certain that He will never ask you to do what He asked Mary and Joseph to do. However, I am certain that He has plenty of difficult assignments that need to be fulfilled.

He is looking for people who will follow him in spite of the tragedies in life.

He is looking for people who will take on the tasks He assigns them and go forth for God.

He is looking for people who possess the right kind of testimony, who will go with Him until their assignment is completed.

Are you that kind of person?

If so, why not get before Him and say, “Here I am Lord, send me!”

Or, maybe you are one of those people who has watched as your dreams have become nightmares; you feel overwhelmed by the task you have been assigned.

You need to go before Him and lean on Him for the grace you need to complete your mission.

I do not know your heart or your need, but I know the God Who will help you with both.