Jesus is “God with us.” This is a truth we need. This is a truth this world needs. Not only is Jesus chosen by God, the Messiah, he is “God with us.” Even Jesus’ legal father recognized this fact!
Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ biological father. But what a man chosen by God to be the earthly, legal father to Jesus! Every crèche, every Nativity scene, includes Joseph with Mary and the baby Jesus. Joseph was a righteous man. He did what was right in life. He wanted to do right by Mary.
But what a situation that was created for Joseph! His betrothed was pregnant! Joseph and Mary had not even lived together yet. Having Mary accused of adultery was on Joseph’s mind. Yet, for him and Mary to become engaged, their families had already figured out that they were a good match for each other. Now, in this year of betrothal, Mary and Joseph were becoming known as belonging to each other. Joseph may have thought, “How can we belong to each other when she has become pregnant?” Yet, Mary was pregnant in this time of betrothal. We don’t know how close to the time of the marriage when we read about Joseph contemplating divorcing Mary. But he had made up his mind to dismiss her.
A. Then an angel visited Joseph in a dream! (Matthew 1:18-23)
1. Joseph had every right to divorce Mary, by the law
2. An angel visited Joseph in a dream
a. Child from the Holy Spirit
b. A Son
c. “He will save his people from their sins” – which people?
– Or both?
d. Completes what the prophet said (Isaiah 7:14)
e. Jesus is “God with us”!
3. Wow! That surely changes everything for Joseph. What would we do if we heard our betrothed, our fiancé, was pregnant out of wedlock? Joseph had to be a righteous man! For some of us men may have thought of divorce or worse! Joseph had been doing right by God up to this point in his life. Could he believe what the angel told him? Could God truly be with his people now, delivering them from their sins?
B. Joseph obeyed the messenger of God (1:24-25)
1. Joseph listened to God, via the angel – obedience to God is higher than the law!
2. Joseph married Mary
3. Joseph did not sleep with his wife until after she gave birth to Jesus!
4. Joseph obeyed God. And Jesus was born and named. When we obey God, we get to see God’s work being done in this world. We get to see that God is with us. But are we with God? Can we men and women not sleep with each other before we are married? Can we obey the angels when they tell us good news from God? Can we do right by God in our lives? Can we do right by our family and friends? Yet, these questions don’t answer the question of why God came to be with us.
I read a letter from Martee Buchanan at the Radford University Wesley Foundation. In this letter is a story that I believe helps us understand Jesus’ birth. Here is what I read:
The story is told of an agnostic farmer who was quite vocal about his disregard for all things religious. His earnest, Christian wife gently invited him to worship with his family, but never nagged or pushed. One snowy Christmas Eve, as she and the children were leaving for worship, his wife asked if he wanted to join them to celebrate God’s coming to earth in human form. Dismissing the story as nonsense, the farmer stayed at home alone. When the snow changed to a driving storm, the farmer went outside to check his livestock. He saw a flock of wild geese and began to try to lead them to the safety of his barn. After exhaustive attempts to shoo/lead the geese into the barn, he took a break to re-think his approach.
“He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn’t follow a human. ‘If only I were a goose, then I could save them,’ he said out loud. Then he had an idea. He went into the barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese.
He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn – and one-by-one, the other geese followed it to safety. He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: ‘If only I were a goose, then I could save them.’ Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. ‘Why would God want to be like us? That’s ridiculous!’
Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God has done. We were like the geese – blind, lost, perishing. God had his Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood why Christ had come. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished with the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: ‘Thank you, God, for coming in human form to lead me through the storm!’”
For us to be righteous, we follow God. Since God is with us, we have Jesus available to lead us through the storm of life. How about you, are you ready to follow Jesus through this life? It would be the righteous way for us to live our lives!