What God Saw
Text: Matthew 1:18-25; 2:13-15; 19-23.
Proposition: The birth of Jesus cues us to the sovereign hand of the Father revealing the humility of the Son in the perfecting power of the Holy Spirit.
Introduction: There are many references to the mother of Jesus in the New Testament, from the visit of Gabriel to Mary as a young virgin and even to her being present at the foot of the cross when Jesus died for our sin. Her significance is clearly seen. But what of the person of Joseph, did he really have a significant place in the Christmas story and in the life of Jesus? Sometimes Joseph can seem like a token presence and yet we know that when it comes to God there are no ‘hood ornaments’, no ‘window dressings’. Each person, even us here this morning, has a precious and particular purpose. Let’s take a closer look at this man as we ask ourselves, “What was it that God saw in this man that he would become the earthy father for Jesus Christ ?” Let’s read Matthew 1: 18- 25; 2:13-15; 19-23.
I. God Saw in Joseph a Man of Deeply Rooted Faith.
We need to remember that at this point in Israel’s history there had been no inspired words from God to His people through any prophet for almost 400 years. Joseph’s faith was exceptional in that he, like the patriarch Abraham before him, believed in the Person and Promises of God. That belief, that faith, is what reckoned him a righteous man. What is it that Joseph believed? He believed that God would never desert Israel, that the descendents of Abraham, of which he was one, would be more numerous than the sands of the sea and through them the entire world would be blessed, both Jew and Gentile. He believed that God would be faithful to all His promises, even the one He made to have Israel receive a Messiah, one who would redeem Israel in many ways. Joseph also believed in the importance of the Law of God, the Ten Commandments, and the 630 other laws that were to be followed. He believed that the inevitable failure to keep these laws perfectly would evidence sin in their hearts and that this sin would need to be covered over by a sacrifice. Joseph believed that the prescription for the atonement of sin as given to Moses (Leviticus 4) was one that needed to be observed to the detail in order that man’s sin would be placed upon the body and blood of an animal for it to die in their place. Joseph believed all this because he believed in the scriptures which are the written inspired words of God. In fact it was the words of scripture that Joseph was seeking to observe when he thought of divorcing Mary. She was legally united to Joseph through engagement and yet she was pregnant. The righteousness of Joseph sought to love Mary and yet obey God. The only solution he could see was to quietly divorce her, saving her from shame and possibly even death by stoning.
God saw the exceptional faith of Joseph, it was part of the reason that He chose Joseph, for out of that faith would come obedience, out of that deeply rooted faith would come godliness, love and hope, out of that deeply rooted faith would come the perseverance to keep the infant Jesus safe.
II. God Saw in Joseph a Qualified Man.
Joseph’s background was really quite a mix. He was just a poor carpenter, a single man with nothing much to his name except his faith. The contrast is that this same Joseph was a great, great descendent of king David. Twenty six generations earlier, God had made a promise to king David that a descendent of his would sit on his throne forever. This king of Israel would also be king of all the nations of the world, even king of all creation. Joseph, as the father figure to the baby Jesus, would be able to pass down that lineage of David to Jesus by inheritance. It was these things that God saw in Joseph, the faith of the poor and the heritage of royalty qualified Joseph for the unique task set before him.
III. God Saw in Joseph a Man Who Could Take Directions.
It is no small thing to be directed as to who you should marry or not, as to when you should leave your country and become a refugee, as to when to return knowing if you are found out it will be death, as to how to begin again in the rough town of Nazareth. How would you handle these things, what would it take to move you to action? Would a dream be enough to convince you or would it take further direction? For Joseph it required action that needed to be taken immediately, in one case it was the middle of the night. God had chosen a man whose will was able to be impressed with the need for quick response and for a will that would patiently wait for the next instruction. For a Israelite to live in Egypt for two years for no other reason other than God had directed him requires an unusual will. As a result of the impressionable will of Joseph, God provided a man to be the family leader and human parent of Jesus, He provided an escape from certain death, He provided funds and a place to go for refuge for the Messiah, He provided the redirecting of the Messiah in all aspects to fulfill the prophetic claims made of Him that would credential Him as the Messiah to those of faith.
That is what God saw in Joseph. So what do we learn about God as we see His choice of this man? Let me suggest three things:
1. We see the Sovereign hand of the heavenly Father. God’s sovereignty is perfect in timing, both long term and short term. In Danial 9 God gave a detailed prophecy that said the Messiah would come 500 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, and that’s what it was. When God directed Joseph it was in terms of hours and minutes, get up and leave now! God fulfilled scripture, out maneuvered Herod and outmaneuvered Satan. In His perfect timing He used a man of deeply rooted faith, perfectly positioned in time and genealogy that He would direct through the critical early days of the Messiah in the manger. He provided a Savior that was the most vulnerable of people, and yet He did all this perfectly.
2. We see humility of the Son. The very beginnings of Christ’s entry into humanity are shadowed over by crisis, the rumor of unfaithfulness, a threatened divorce, parents who were young and poor. He was displaced like a refugee before and after His birth, He was the object of judicial wrath from a jealous king, He lived under the reputation of the town of Nazareth. Remember the words of 1 Cor. 1, “ But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are”. What He does in you and I, He first accomplished through the humble beginnings of Jesus.
3. We see the Perfecting power of the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 1:18, 20 it says, “the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”. The conception by the Holy Spirit had to literally be the intervening of the Spirit in the womb of Mary completing the conception process. Were the very strands of DNA entwined with the radiant glory of Christ, the Creator of the Universe compressed into space and time and now resident in the womb of a virgin named Mary? However the power of the Most High overshadowed her, however the Holy Spirit was used to bring about this divine conception, He perfectly accomplishes every detail of the Father’s will. What God saw in Joseph was a faithful man ready to follow His will. What we see in God is a Sovereign, Humble, Precise God whose holy nature and infinite glory have been revealed to the whole world through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.