Main Text: Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Jesus is coming! Jesus Christ has come and will come again. This is the hope of the church that He purchased with His blood. His coming is the eager expectation and desire of His followers. His first advent is one of the greatest acts of love that the world has ever experienced.
Christmas in our modern context is often a season of excess. We have developed an insatiable appetite for material things in hope that they will satisfy us.
The real goods of Christmas are not that which we purchase.
The real goods of Christmas are that which satisfy the soul.
I pray that each of us would discover the joy, love, hope, and peace promised by the Savior whose birth we celebrate. We can do that by entering the original Christmas story.
We have been looking at people involved in the original advent and how they saw God’s power and fruit in their lives. Last week we looked at John the Baptist’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. This week our text focuses on Joseph who was engaged to Mary- the expectant mother of Jesus.
A three-word summary of our text could be: Joseph felt betrayed. Most of us know, to some degree or another, the deep devastation that the feelings of betrayal bring. The most clear biblical picture of betrayal is that of Jesus being betrayed by Judas (Luke 22). A good definition of betrayal is:
One individual taking what is treasured between them and another, and using it for their own advantage exclusively.
This is what you are doing when you betray someone. For Jesus, Judas took their friendship and trust and used it for his own financial gain. This is what Joseph felt Mary had done to him at this point of their relationship. He felt that she had taken the anticipated physical intimacy and sexual relations and used it for her own advantage – her own pleasure.
Like our experience, Joseph’s betrayal hurts deeply because it involved a close relationship, it came at a crucial time, and it involved their greatest treasure. Joseph felt that Mary had stolen the greatest expression of their love and commitment. Many of you have walked through those same waters.
How we chose to respond at the moment of betrayal and the days to follow are everything. Will we focus on resentment, bitterness, and revenge? Those things will bear fruit that will bring destruction and more pain. Or, will we find the love that Christ offers us? Receiving God’s love through Christ will cause us to see the power of God’s work in our lives.
Joseph’s response to betrayal
Love covers sin: Joseph’s heart was not to expose and attack Mary’s apparent sin (verse 19). His intent was to honor God and Mary. His was choosing not to exercise his rights of stoning and shame (Proverbs 10:12). Love is committed to protecting the sinner (1 Corinthians 13:7). This is in direct contradiction to what our society does with a wrong doer. Often, even in church, when we have been betrayed, our first reaction is to tell anyone that will listen the sin of the person who hurt me.
Love listens to God: In the midst of Joseph’s pain and confusion, God communicated that He had a plan (verse 20). God let Joseph know that he could trust Him. God will lead us if we will listen (Proverbs 3:5-6). God’s words brought a different perspective.
Often we do not listen to God because we are so consumed with the person who sinned against us and all of their shortcomings. Joseph didn’t do this. Love doesn’t do this (1 Corinthians 13:5-6). The love that God will pour into a person who will receive it causes that person to respond differently.
Love believes God: Verses 20-23 of our text shows us some enormous faith that Joseph was to have. On top of that – none of this was immediately seen and couldn’t be verified. Joseph was to believe that:
Mary was still a virgin.
The baby had been miraculously placed in her womb through the Holy Spirit.
The baby would be God’s provision for the world’s sin – including Joseph’s and Mary’s.
Mary and Joseph were fulfillment to Old Testament prophecies written hundreds of years before they were born.
Love obeys God: Verse 24 shows the incredible obedience of Joseph. Even when we know what is right, we tend to rationalize when it is too hard. Often we will simply not obey. It is imperative as Christ followers that we obey God’s Word (John 14:21,24). What is your step of obedience that God is asking you to do?
A sin to confess?
Attitude you need to change?
An action to start or stop?
A person you need to forgive?
Receive the love of God – Jesus!
Apply to Life
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the new commandment “love your neighbor” (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
Discuss the Message
Read: Matthew 1:18-25
How are your Christmas traditions going? What are you learning this year about Christmas?
Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes and describe your reaction, thoughts and feelings concerning Mary’s news.
What do you think of when you hear the word “betrayed”?
How does the Gospel show us God’s Love towards those who have betrayed Him? In what way(s) have you betrayed God? How has God demonstrated His love for you?