By Kenny Bruce
Pastor Emeritus, Leawood East Baptist Church, Memphis
Focal Passage: Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25
I. JOSEPH’S DILEMMA (vv. 18-19) Joseph was betrothed to Mary. A betrothal was more binding than our modern engagement. A contract was sealed by a payment made by the groom or his family to the bride’s father. The amount ordinarily would cover wedding expenses in case the groom divorced her.
The couple were considered legally married even though the marriage ceremony did not occur until as much as a year later. Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. The obvious conclusion was that she had experienced relations with another man. Joseph was most certainly shocked by this development.
He had every right to shame Mary by divorcing her publicly, or even to have her stoned to death (Deuteronmy 22:23-24). However, out of consideration for her, he resolved to put her away secretly by divorce.
II. JOSEPH’S DREAM (Matthew 1:20-23) An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife “because what has been conceived of her is from the Holy Spirit” (v. 20).
When we know that we are in the will of God, He removes the fear and replaces it with peace. The night before my heart surgery in 2008, God gave me perfect peace. The angel told Joseph to name his son Jesus. Jesus is a form of the Hebrew Joshua which means “Jehovah will save.”
The angel continued, “…he will save his people from their sins” (v. 21). Matthew explains that Jesus’ virgin birth was prophesied in the Old Testament, quoting Isaiah 7:14. The Hebrew word translated “virgin” in that verse is used six other times in the Old Testament, and in each case contains the idea of a virgin.
Isaiah’s prophecy says Jesus will be called Immanuel which means “God with us.” Immanuel is used of a title or description whereas Jesus is used as His proper name. Through Christ, God is with His people and His presence gives us courage.
If your reputation is ever slandered because people are misrepresenting you, take courage because your reputation belongs to God. 1 Samuel 2:30 says, “I will honor those who honor Me, but those who despise Me will be disgraced.” When we honor God and seek to please Him, He gives us the courage to leave our reputation in His hands.
III. JOSEPH’S DECISION (Matthew 1:24-25) Joseph obeyed what the angel commanded him to do. He married Mary and kept her as a virgin until the birth of Jesus.
If we obey His Word, like Joseph did, we build our lives on solid rock. When the storms of life blow our way, we stand against them and overcome them (Matthew 7:24-27). Joseph not only lived a godly and righteous life before Jesus, but he also invested his life in Him. He taught his son Jesus how to be a carpenter.
The greatest investment we will ever make is to deposit our lives in the will of God, like Joseph did. The greatest dividend we’ll ever earn is to experience Jesus as Immanuel — God with us. B&R