- Sermon Notes
Getting on God’s Side in The Story
Last week we studied Luke 1:26-38, where we learned about Mary who was a teenage girl chosen by the Lord to be the mother of Jesus. We saw the angel Gabriel visit Mary and inform her of God’s will for her life, that she would bear and birth Jesus. Mary embraced the will of the Lord for her life, powerfully, saying “may the word and will of the Lord be done to me,” but as we discussed there was another person who would be personally impacted, there was another important side to the story, that was the man she was betrothed to, Joseph.
Matthew 1:18-19, Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
Both here in Matthew 1, as well as in Luke 1, we are told that Joseph was the man who Mary was betrothed to. As we saw last week, betrothal was an engagement, but in that day the customs surrounding engagement were much different than we see in our day. Betrothal was a legally binding agreement that would last for about a year. During that year the man would prepare a place for the couple, they would both prove their faithfulness and fidelity. Once betrothed, the only way to get out of marrying that person was through death, or divorce. If the woman or man died during betrothal, the one remaining would be considered a widow, or widower. Though binding, the actual consummation of the marriage would not take place until the wedding at the end of the year-long betrothal.
There was no physical contact and little social contact during that time. It was simply a period of waiting and preparation. And it is during that period of waiting that Joseph gets the news that Mary is pregnant. While we are not sure exactly how the conversation went down, we pick up the story in Matthew 1 and we see clearly that the reality of Mary’s pregnancy is something Joseph knows now.
The reality of Mary’s pregnancy would have come with her side of the story. We see her side specified in Luke 1: An angel of the Lord came to her, the will of the Lord was revealed to her, she was willing to walk according to the will and word of the Lord for her life. The child was the Son of God, those are the details given, and while we do know specifics, they are likely the details delivered to Joseph as Mary recounted her story.
The reality of the situation is that Joseph was not there when the angel came to Mary, and he, after hearing about it all would have his own side in the story. While we do not know specifically what he is thinking, we get a pretty good indication based upon the fact that after Mary was found with child, Joseph was ready to end the Joseph and Mary story.
Joseph had his own side of the story, the way the situation impacted him personally. And the conclusion to which he had come, was to move on. That is, until he receives the word of the Lord and understands God’s side in the story.
- Don’t Settle Until You Have His Solution
- Though Joseph had decided on a solution of separation from Mary, we know from verse 19 that Joseph was a righteous man.
- Despite the betrayal he may have felt at hearing this news, his heart was not to disgrace Mary, however, it seems that it was clearly not a situation he wanted to remain in.
- While engagements are societally different today, the thoughts and personal implications are quite similar.
- Joseph being a righteous man, means that he didn’t want to go against God’s laws. To marry Mary would have been an admission of guilt, that he had been intimate with Mary, when he had not done so.
- It was at that time, upon hearing the news that Joseph had three options:
- He could have exposed her publicly, and in the Old Testament that would have meant public shaming and public stoning. (John 8:5)
- He could have sought a private divorce. This is the direction he was headed in. This is where a person would bring two witnesses and a certificate ending the relationship.
- The third option he had was to proceed and marry Mary. It seems he could not bring himself to do this, so, he opted for option number 2.
- A public divorce would disgrace her, and it is evident that he did not want to humiliate her.
- Joseph had a good and fair plan in mind, he could keep his reputation and show compassion toward Mary.
- It was the most logical, and under normal circumstances might even be the “right thing.” But these were no normal circumstances.
- Though Joseph had made certain plans, the Lord had a purpose that was bigger.
Proverbs 19:21, Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Jeremiah 29:13, You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 33:3, ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
Illus. Don’t settle.
- Don’t settle until you have heard the word of the Lord, until you have His solution; find a way to get in front of Him.
- Think Through What He Desires to Do
Matthew 1:20-21, But when he had thought this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
- From verse 20 we learn that Joseph was thinking, or “had thought this over.” Other translations say he had “considered” or was considering his plan.
- The word used for considered, or thinking it over describes something that is revolving in one’s mind, a deliberation, or pondering.
- This gives strong indication that Joseph was not settled in the previously planned solution to send Mary away secretly, or as the NIV translates it, “divorce her quietly.” It was revolving in his mind.
- There was something different the Lord wanted to do, there were different plans the Lord had in mind, and Joseph needed to think through, he was unsettled.
- There is much that revolves in our minds as well. Must we stew on, chew on, or consider when the way is unclear.
Illus. The reality of restlessness.
Psalm 42:11, Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him for the help of His presence, my God.
Colossians 3:15, Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…
- As Joseph is thinking his situation through, the Lord sends an angel in his dream so that Joseph would understand God’s side of the story and think through what God alone desired to do.
- The angel of the Lord reminds Joseph of his lineage by calling Joseph “son of David.” This would point Joseph towards his legal lineage, a lineage of power and strength, his legal lineage to the throne of David.
- “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid….”
- The way it is written in the Greek language, it means to stop an action that is already going on, it is as if the angel is saying, “don’t give thought to your fears,” one commentator wrote it is as if the angel is saying “stop being afraid!”
- Joseph was reminded of who he was, “Son of David” and is then given instruction regarding what to do.
- Those in Christ also have a lineage, a family line, of power and strength, filled with a destiny and a calling.
- Because we are a part of God’s family, we too can cling to some important truths!
1 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
- Those in Christ also have a lineage, a family line, of power and strength, filled with a destiny and a calling.
- We are children of the “Greater than David,” we are children of God.
John 1:11-12, He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
- Since we are God’s children we must live as His children, not in fear, but according to His will determined in our lives to pursue His plans and what He desires to deliver.
- Surely, the Lord still desires to deliver Jesus into our world currently, and He uses you and He uses me.
- Our opportunity is to think through what God desires to do, and then realize that it is His children, me and you, that He desires to use.
1 Thessalonians 5:24, Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
Illus. If not you, who?
- God was going to use Mary, and He was going to use Joseph. He desired to deliver the Messiah, and it was prophesied that the Messiah would come through David’s line (1 Chronicles 17:1-12), which Joseph was in.
- As Joseph’s legal son, Jesus would be in the legal line of David. Joseph was necessary, he was the “who” God would use.
- It was also necessary that Isaiah 7:14 be fulfilled:
Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel.
- Joseph, Son of David, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child is of the Holy Spirit.”
- Joseph was told he should marry Mary, name the baby Jesus, and that he would be raising God’s Son, the One who would save His people from their sins.
Matthew 1:22-25, Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.
- After thinking it through and understanding what the Lord desired to do, Joseph decided to get on God’s side in his story, and it would require him to center what was to come in his life, around Jesus.
III. Remain Committed to What He Calls You To
- This is what Joseph would need to do. We learn in verse 24 that he would do as the Lord commanded him, and there would be significant and continuous challenges associated with the call he had been given. He would need to remain committed.
- He had been given his directives in a dream, but now the dream was over.
- Joseph would keep her a virgin up until the time she gave birth to Jesus.
- Joseph would take her to Bethlehem where the baby would be born, that’s in the jurisdiction of Herod the Great.
- The wise men would tip him off that a baby has been born. He will kill the babies of Bethlehem. So now, Joseph is risking his life and his family’s life. Joseph would then journey to Egypt and live there for two years.
- He gave up his career in Nazareth, his life in Nazareth as a carpenter, for two years. Then he would go back to Nazareth after two years, start all over again.
- Things got difficult after the dream, but Joseph remained committed to fulfilling God’s will.
- Interestingly, the Bible records no words of Joseph, but his actions speak to us loudly. Joseph was willing to endure difficulty to fulfill the will of the Lord.
- This is what Joseph and Mary did. They chose Jesus, but they did not stop with that choice, their choice of Him was evident in their steps. Where they went and did not go, as soon as Jesus entered their family, it was all about Him.
- They knew that by getting on board with Jesus, they were getting on God’s side in their story…
Illus. Whose side?
Romans 8:31, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?