Sermon Outline On Matthew 1:18-25
Joseph. Sometimes he seems to be the forgotten man in the whole story of Jesus’ birth. We know so little about him, but yet in this story we learn so much about him, his character and his faith.
Joseph was betrothed to Mary. Engagements in those days typically were at least a year to allow the groom time to prepare their new home and to allow the bride time to make linens and to get things ready for the household. During this time an engagement was considered a time of being married even though there had not been any ceremony and they did not live together. It was as binding as a marriage. It was a time of preparation.
Of course, it was during this time that the angel had come to Mary and told her she was with child and that He was to be the savior of the world. Remember how we talked about how hard it would be to explain to her family and to Joseph? Apparently, at least with Joseph, it did not go too well. It was too much for him to believe or more maybe more then he could bear. He obviously struggled with his decision over what to do. You can just imagine him thinking that all he had wanted in his life was love. He wanted the love of a good wife and the love of a family. And, now his bride is telling him that she is pregnant with God’s Son who is the Messiah that they had all longed for. That is a lot to grasp.
We are told that Joseph was a righteous man and obviously a man of deep faith and convictions. I am sure that after much prayer and talking with family and friends is when he reached the decision to quietly dismiss her in order not to disgrace her or her family. We can tell that this must have been a struggle for Joseph because Scripture tells us, “just when he had resolved to do this”¦”, it had not been an easy decision.
So, the angel came to Joseph in a dream and reassured Joseph. The angel told Joseph to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the child that she carries truly is from God and that He is to be named Jesus and that He will save the people from our sins just as the prophets had spoken.
Joseph, like anyone was afraid of what all was before him and now he had the reassurance he needed to know that everything would be ok. So, Joseph did as he was told and took Mary to be his wife.
All Joseph wanted was love and now he was going to receive more love then he could have possibly have imagined. The love of his wife and the love of God in the special way of a newborn baby. He was going to receive the Savior of the World into his family. Such love is this that no one has ever seen or experienced.
Scripture tells us that Joseph was a faithful and righteous man. He shows this and answers his call to faithfulness by recognizing that this dream and message from the angel came from God and that he needed to obedient and faithful and answers the call. But, how much more it had to be then just being faithful and obedient. He had to be true to himself and to Mary in how they lived their lives. No doubt they went through many difficult times with people wondering about Mary’s pregnancy, family questioning events, and then long years away from home in a far off land.
But, for now, it is all about Emmanuel. God with us. And Joseph almost missed it. Joseph’s initial response to the news that Mary was going to have a child was to dismiss her quietly, not wanting to expose her to public disgrace.
The child Mary carried was God’s creative power at work. So also in us and those around us God’s creative power is at work. And do we dare dismiss it quietly? Or do we, like Joseph, change our minds and open ourselves to the potential that God gives us because God is with us? Each and every day we have the opportunity to dismiss (quietly) God who is with us or to choose to open ourselves to the miracle of divine new birth.
One night Joseph is sure that his decision is correct, the next morning he knows it was wrong. The only difference being the insight that God has given him and that he trusts God in the path that he is being led to.
I cannot help but think of the many times I have quietly dismissed “God with me” or I was sure I had the right answer without listening to God. It is easy to dismiss the “God with us” in ourselves, imagining that God cannot work in us or through us. It is easy to dismiss the “God with us” in others, blinded by our own expectations or preconceived ideas. How many times have we longed for God to be with us but we have overlooked God trying to reach out to us, or dismissed special moments not believing it is God coming to us, or that God loves us that much to reach out to us individually. However, God does know and reach out to each of us individually and knows us individually in special ways. God longs to be in relationship with us. God longs to communicate with us, to guide us and most of all to love us. God’s love has come down to us in so many special ways throughout the centuries but now God’s love comes to us in the greatest of ways. God reached out and into the love of Joseph and Mary’s lives to have them share their love with Jesus. To raise Him in a home filled with love and laughter and learning. Joseph wanted love. Now he has received the greatest love of all. The love of his wife, the love of God and the love of the Messiah being an intimate part of their lives. God wants to be an intimate part of our lives also.
Emmanuel, “God with us!” When we accept Christ into our lives, nothing, not even death, can separate us from God and His love. It is what Christmas is about. God is with us. The great people of faith have always claimed that promise. Just think of it:
— Moses caught between the Pharaoh and the deep Red Sea in a seemingly hopeless situation believed that God was with him and he went forward and trusted God to open a way and He did!
— Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego went into the fiery furnace into a seemingly hopeless situation and they trusted God to be with them and He was!
— Little David stood before Goliath. What chance could a small boy with a slingshot have against this giant of a warrior? But David believed that God was with him and it made all the difference! Now, it’s interesting to note that when the writer of Matthew’s gospel wanted to capture the meaning of Christmas, the meaning of the Christ event, the meaning of Jesus in a single word, he did a very wise thing.
He reached back into the Old Testament, pulled out an old word, dusted it off, and used it to convey the message. The word was Emmanuel. That’s what Jesus is about “His name shall be called Emmanuel” which means, “God is with us.” The impact of that Christmas promise is incredible. When you believe that, when you accept that, when you claim that promise it will absolutely change your life.
Because when you bow down before Jesus and know that God is truly with you through Him then you to will find love. A love that goes beyond anything that you have ever experienced in this world. What do you want for Christmas? God is longing to give you joy, peace and love. All of this through the precious child of Jesus. May we go forth to celebrate Emmanuel and the birth of Jesus our Savior. Thanks be to God. Amen.