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Matthew 1:18-25

The Promised One: Until You Get God's Side of the Story

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • December 17, 2023

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The Promised One: Until You Get God’s Side of the Story

Matthew 1:18-25  


Illus. What do you see?


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 informed 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.


Read: Matthew 1:18-25


In verses 18 and 19, we get the first glimpse as what Joseph was going through after he had learned about Mary’s side of the story, but before he had received God’s side in the story. What we see in those verses, is Joseph’s side of things, and when he hears the news, he begins to plan out what he is going to do, his plan once he learned the news, was to divorce Mary quietly. Though he had a plan in mind, his plan came before he heard from God on the subject. Through his story we will see the importance of getting God’s side in a story and what to do until we do.


  1. Be Slow to Speak


  • In verse, 18 we are given some details about Josephs relationship with Mary.


Matthew 1:18, Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit.


  • As we saw last week, betrothal was an engagement or pledge to be married, 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.


  • We do not know how Joseph heard the news. We don’t know if Mary told him personally, of if he found out some other way, but we know she was found to be “pregnant by the Holy Spirit” and Joseph found out about it.


  • Finding out about 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.


  • 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 on his side of things, we will see that he began planning to divorce her quietly.


  • We are going to get to his process in that plan, but first, there is something striking about Joseph that I want to point out.


  • Specifically, in his response, we see that he begins to put some plans together, that he will do a great deal of thinking, but what we don’t see or read about is Joseph speaking.


  • That is something worth noting in Scripture, there is no recorded words from Joseph.


  • We know he spoke, but no recorded words.


  • And as he processed the news of Mary’s pregnancy, no words recorded. Just some plans he begins thinking about, and he will also show that he is willing to hear when the Lord speaks to him.


  • This is important in our own stories…


James 1:19-20, You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.


  • I appreciate James’ instruction here…Be quick to hear, slow to speak.


  • I appreciate his words because it often seems that the opposite is what we most often see in our world presently.


Proverbs 13:3, One who guards his mouth protects his life; one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.


Proverbs 18:21, Death and life are in the power of the tongue…


Proverbs 21:23, One who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.


Matthew 12:36, But I tell you that for every careless word that people speak, they will give an account of it on the day of judgment.


Illus. Slow to speak.


Psalms 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.


  1. Consider that He Can Still Perfect Your Plans


Matthew 1:19-20(a), And her husband Joseph, since he was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had thought this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appear to him in a dream…


  • Despite the betrayal Joseph may have felt at hearing the news of Mary’s pregnancy, 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:


  1. He could have exposed her publicly, and in the Old Testament that would have meant public shaming or even public stoning. (John 8:5)


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  • 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.


  • We have been looking at the Lord’s purpose and His plans these last few weeks as we have studied the circumstances surrounding Jesus’s birth story.


  • The plans for Zechariah and Elizabeth who were advanced in years but were given a son. Mary, who was planning and preparing for a wedding being given the news that she was going to bear and birth Jesus…And now Joseph preparing a place for he and his bride to be.


  • Joseph heard the news and began planning his exit at first, but we also see that he continued to think through his plans.


  • 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 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.


  • Joseph what going to hear from the Lord, the Lord was going to reveal his good and perfect will for Joseph. But upon hearing the headlines, Joseph could have begun to think there was nothing God could do given the circumstances he had come to.


  • We can often do the same when we feel backed into a corner. This can be circumstances we have brought upon ourselves, to things that have been done to us…God can still perfect your plans.


  • Consider that!

Illus. Consider God’s Perfect Plan Presently.


III.   Make Room for Whatever 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.”


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • But also, a lineage through which the Promised One would come.


  • The Lord reminds Joseph of what is true! And when the Lord brings instruction to us, we too need to be reminded of who we are in Christ and what we have in Him.


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.


  • Those in Christ also have a lineage, a family line, of power and strength, filled with a destiny and a calling.


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.


  • We are children of the “Greater than David,” we are 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.


  • 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.


Illus. Plans interrupted.


  • 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.


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.


  • 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.


  • We learn in verse 24 that he would settle on God’s instructions and do as the Lord commanded him.


  • There would be significant and continuous challenges associated with the call he had been given.


  • But Joseph remained settled on God’s instructions.


  • 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. 


  • And be around the same people who knew them, who could put dates together.  “Oh, that’s when she got pregnant?  Yeah, the baby is how old now?…How many months exactly” gossiping and talking…  Interesting.


  • He would go back to the town that would gossip about them and it seems the gossip never ended.  Jesus, when he was growing up, even the Pharisees said things like this to Jesus, “We are not born of fornication.” Why would they say that?  Because they were intimating that he was.  


  • On another occasion, the Pharisees would say, “We know who our father is.” As if to say, “Who is yours?” All of that was a slight on his character and Joseph had to live with that.  He had to adjust his whole life around Jesus, a child he had nothing to do with bringing into this world, he was settled on God’s instruction.


Matthew 1:24, Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him…

Illus. Whose side?


Romans 8:31, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?



Matthew 1:18-25

18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19And her husband Joseph, since he was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20But 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. 21She will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22Now all this took place so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: 23“Beholdthe virgin will conceive and give birth to a Sonand they shall name Him Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he named Him Jesus.


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