Along with great pride, most new fathers feel some amount of anxiety over the new responsibilities they face. But, no father has ever felt what Joseph must have been feeling; he was given the task of parenting the Son of God! Where’s the manual for that? Who could you ask for advice?
See Luke 1:26-37.
I. Joseph’s Distress… Matthew 1:18
Even before Jesus was born, Joseph had faced much… and his good character was revealed through it all.
When Mary returned from her time away with her cousin, Elizabeth, she was obviously pregnant. And Joseph knew the baby was not his.
Mary claimed an angel visit… and that the Baby she was carrying was actually the Son of God!… conceived by the Holy Spirit; do you think this eased his mind? The news must have hit him like a punch in the stomach! What would people think? What was he supposed to tell his family and friends? Could Mary be telling the truth?
II. Joseph’s Decision… Matthew 1:19
Joseph could have reacted in a number of ways; he could have publicly shamed Mary, he could have had her stoned as an adultress, he could have simply disappeared in the night. Instead, when he learned that Mary was pregnant with a child he knew could not be his, he mercifully planned to divorce her quietly and spare her any public disgrace.
In the midst of his personal crisis, his first 2 thoughts were:
1) What does God want me to do?
2) How can I best show mercy and kindness to Mary?
Think back to a crisis in your own life. How did you respond? If a writer were to summarize your actions in 1 or 2 sentences (like Matthew did Joseph’s), how would it read?
* Adversity reveals much about our spiritual character.
III. Joseph’s First Dream
- The Message… Matthew 1:20-33
An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him he should marry her – because the Baby in her was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would be the Savior of the world!
- The Marriage… Matthew 1:24,25
Joseph took Mary to be his wife… and her Child as his own.
Joseph must have felt his world had turned upside-down when Mary told him of her pregnancy, but he kept an open mind and an open heart. And, as a result, God allowed Joseph the privilege of caring for the Christ child.
When you receive what appears to be bad news, keep an open mind and heart. God may have a plan to bring blessing out of what appears to be tragedy.
See Luke 2:1-20.
When Mary gave birth to Jesus, Joseph watched… no doubt amazed… as people came from near and far to worship the Baby as the divine King.
See Luke 2:21-24,39-41.
See Matthew 2:1-12.
IV. Joseph’s Second Dream… Matthew 2:13-18
An angel appeared to Joseph again and warned him to take his young family to Egypt to avoid being killed by King Herod.
V. Joseph’s Third Dream… Matthew 2:19-21
VI. Joseph’s Fourth Dream… Matthew 2:22,23
Joseph returned to his hometown of Nazareth, where he continued to raise Jesus, the Savior of the world.
4 dreams… Imagine what would have happened if Joseph had ignored the clear revelation of God from any of these 4 dreams. Suppose he’d awakened from one of those dreams and just tried to explain it away: How can I be sure it was a dream from God? Maybe it was just the pickles and milk I had before sleep. It seems urgent, but what would be the harm in waiting to see what happens?
Can you imagine the blessings he would have missed? Or thee dangers he would have faced?
For us, obedience doesn’t always seem so urgent. We’re not faced with world-changing events or life-and-death choices very often. But the principle is still true: God wants to guide us and bless us. And we can’t know the full extent of His blessings unless we follow His lead.
* We have to obey God to experience His blessings.
Joseph was apparently a carpenter by trade (Matt. 13:55), and he must have passed these skills on to Jesus as well… because Jesus was also referred to as a carpenter (Mark 6:3).
When Jesus was 12 years old, Joseph & Mary were reminded again of Jesus’ true identity when they found Him in the temple, astounding the teachers with His questions. Jesus reminded Joseph & Mary that the temple was His true Father’s house, so it should be no surprise He would be there.
This is the last occasion Joseph is mentioned as being present; he evidently died early in life, before Jesus began His public ministry.
You can read Joseph’s story in Matthew 1,2; Luke 2.