Grace Bible Church
The Tree of Life
A Weekly Review
Week ending 122511
Christmas Message 2011. The forgotten man of Christmas.

For those of us who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, Christmas is a time to focus on His birth called theologically the incarnation. The great reality of the incarnation is the doctrine that the Son of God was conceived in the womb of Mary and that Jesus is true God and true man – undiminished deity and true humanity in one person forever.

1TI 3:16, And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

God became a man, which is that tremendous incomprehensible miracle of divine energy that brought God into human history. But because of the complexity of all that is happening around us and because Satan has cluttered up Christmas with so much needless paraphernalia, most people have missed Christmas. All you have to do is look around you. People are busy doing all kinds of things, but they missed the reality of Christmas. It’s not just happening today, it happened back on that very first

Joseph’s actions and decisions in the months leading up to the birth of Jesus define for us what true faith and Christian Character looks like. I have often said that the unsung hero in the Nativity scene is Joseph. Being a husband I can only imagine the pain he went through. The questions and doubts. Yet, out of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Joseph emerges victoriously. As such, he can teach us a lot about Character.

Joseph had a faith and righteousness is that rises above circumstances. The circumstance that Joseph found himself in was probably among the worst a Hebrew young man could find himself in. He was humiliated, devastated, disgraced, and every other negative emotion one can muster. His trust in his fiancée had been questioned and perhaps even destroyed. Adultery is one in which people respond solely based on the rage of emotions that overwhelm them.

LEV 20:10 tells us that the punishment for adultery was death. Joseph had every right to leave Mary, according to the law, yet in the end he chose to quietly send her away. Saving her humiliation and making the right choice. It’s Important to note that the angel doesn’t come until after Joseph had made the decision.

MAT 1:18-25, 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, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, 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 that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “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 arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took {her} as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Truly, this whole plan hinged on Joseph for a moment in time. We learn that Joseph was a man of character. A man of righteousness despite the circumstance he was in. As Christians we are called to be righteous despite what circumstances we find ourselves in. Luke writes in Luke 6:32, If you love those who love you what good is that? The same principle applies, if you are righteous only when your circumstance is favorable, what good is that? It’s when the chips are down and you still choose to be faithful and operate in the righteousness of God that really matters.

Here is something amazing about Joseph. He is the first to receive the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Mary had been visited by the angel and told to name the boy Jesus, and that what was conceived in her was the Son of God. You cannot assume that a 15-year-old girl would understand the complexities of Jewish tradition. The Messiah probably was confusing to her. She then goes to visit Elizabeth, and Elizabeth realized that something is different about this child. But it is not until we get to the message from the angel to Joseph do we read, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Joseph is not just shone the power of the baby, he is shown the whole mission of the baby. Joseph would have been more familiar with God’s plan and provision for the people. No doubt Joseph wondered how on earth the Messiah could come to a humble couple such as him and Mary, rather than from nobility, born into a palace. He never questions: He gets up and immediately acts upon what he hears.

MAT 1:24-25, And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took {her} as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

What an illustration we have of obedience to God. Do we hesitate? Do we disobey? What is God asking us to do? What is He asking you to do that you question? A very prominent part of a Hebrew marriage was the consummation. It didn’t matter what the priests said. It didn’t matter what price the father of the bride asked for. It was not until the consummation of the marriage that they considered the marriage final – sexual intercourse. That happened on the marriage night. But the night that Mary and Joseph were married there was no consummation. Look at what Joseph does. He puts up a hedge of protection around Mary, physically to the world he had proclaimed he would marry her despite the shame.

MAT 1:19, And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly.

He put up a hedge of protection for her emotional state. He was righteous and always put her first. Now he is hedging her with protection from even their own consummation. He put his desires and needs on hold so that God could fulfill what He would fulfill through Mary and the baby Jesus. Joseph showed amazing integrity beyond himself. How are we showing integrity in our relationship with God? Are we allowing the world to dictate what we say and do, and how we act? Are we allowing our own wants and desires to control us? When you are a Christian of integrity, this cannot be part of your life.

Conclusion

The forgotten man of Christmas is Joseph. He never speaks in the Bible. He is usually relegated to the role of an extra in the Christmas story. That should not be. Even though Joseph was remarkably simple, he was simply remarkable. Joseph demonstrates to us all the consequences and influence of obedience to the word of God. The Forgotten Man of Christmas Demonstrates Obedience to God, Regardless of what sight says.

JOH 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

ISA 11:3, And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;

PRO 14:12, There is a way {which seems} right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

The point is, things are not always what they seem. Zacharias denied the command of God. Mary doubted the command of God. Joseph simply obeyed. He woke up from his dream and married Mary. Nothing pleases God like obedience. We can obey God in painful circumstances. The rabbis demanded that such a woman be put away. Yet Joseph obeyed when it hurt. We can obey God in spite of fear. Joseph felt terror at the holy thing God was doing. God told him “Do not be afraid”.

MAT 1:20, But when he had considered this, 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 that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

We can obey God even while going forward in fear. We can obey God by staking everything on His word alone. Even though Joseph had no New Testament, he staked his future on the word of God. The Forgotten Man of Christmas Demonstrates the Consequences of Obedience. Obedience to God always has immediate personal consequences.

Joseph took Mary home as his wife. But he had no sex with her until she gave birth to a son.

MAT 1:25, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Joseph was probably a young man. The immediate consequence of his obedience was to live with Mary in chastity until she gave birth. He watched her, protected her, but did not touch her. Obedience to God sets the course for a lifetime of consequences.

The trip to Bethlehem, the flight to Egypt, the running from Herod’s family, looking for Jesus at the temple, and many other consequences came from the initial decision of obedience. There is no obedience to the word and will of God without consequences.

The Forgotten Man of Christmas Demonstrates the Influence of Obedience.

Your obedience always influences how others think about God. Who Cares about Joseph? Grooms are always background to the bride. Fathers are always faint memories in light of mothers and babies. And Joseph…well who cares about Joseph?

God does.

What Would You Have Done If You Were Joseph? It often gets lost, but Joseph was the hero of the Christmas narrative. He was loyal, faithful, humble, and courageous.

If you had been in Joseph’s sandals, what would you have done? Where are you in Joseph’s story? What do you do when facing a tough, life-altering decision. When bearing the brunt of wagging tongues for doing what is right. When standing alone and forgotten. When being called upon to shield someone, or even when following the Lord through a radical plan? Would you be like Joseph and go there?

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