Our church started a new series titled ‘The Characters of Christmas.’ Our pastor does a great job of pointing out what should be evident to us when reading the Bible but is often overlooked. I’ve read the gospel accounts about Jesus’ birth, and admittedly I missed some things in his story like the faithfulness of the characters.
So today, I want to share my sermon notes with you on the characters of Christmas. Our first character is Joseph. Note: I am going in reverse order to the sermon series. I hope you don’t mind.
By now, we’ve all seen the various portrayals of Christmas. Everything from the manger scene, the wise men, the shepherds, Christmas cantatas, Christmas musicals, plays, and candlelight services. Some of us have had a role in various Christmas productions. Some have done everything from singing in the choir, caroling house to house, playing a sheep, or building sets. But have you ever thought about the characters of Christmas that were there the night Jesus was born?
Have you read the biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth found in the books of Matthew and Luke? I hope you have read them, at least once in your life. Perhaps Christmas reminds you to open your Bible to those old familiar stories of Jesus’ birth.
Today our text comes from the gospel of Matthew.
“and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.” Matthew 1:16
Matthew tells us about the lineage of Jesus the Messiah in chapter 1. We see Joseph is mentioned here. Jacob in the above passage is not the same Jacob that had 12 sons, one of them named Joseph. Those guys died hundreds of years before Jesus was born.
Notice that Matthew does not say Joseph was the biological father of Jesus, only that he was the husband of Mary. But that does not negate the important role Joseph played. Check out the following verses:
Matthew 1:18 – 24, “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” [d] (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
Few notes from these passages about Joseph:
Very little is known about Joseph, and we never read one spoken word from Joseph. The Bible doesn’t record anything he says.
The Bible does record Joseph’s faithfulness.
Joseph was faithful to Mary
- He was faithful in the midst of chaos.
- He was faithful to the law, but he loved Mary so much he didn’t want to embarrass her.
- His faithfulness to Mary was on display.
Put yourself in his shoes for a moment. The pastor gave this example:
“So, my girlfriend is pregnant, and it isn’t my child.”
A hush fell over the crowd. Condemning eyes looked upon his girlfriend. Friends questioned how she could do that to him.
“Whose kid is it?”
“Don’t keep her around.”
“Obviously, she isn’t faithful to you if she is pregnant with someone else’s baby. What’s wrong with her?”
And yet Joseph chose not to embarrass Mary but instead obeyed the Lord and accepted Jesus as his son. Think about this – Joseph did not reject the Savior of the world despite what the world may have said to and about Joseph and Mary back then. His faithfulness to the Lord was more important than what those around him may have thought.
Joseph was faithful to God
- He knows this is beyond him and Mary.
- He is faithful through the situation.
- He was obedient to the Lord’s direction.
Matthew 2:13-15, “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” [
This is the second time an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Scripture records Joseph obeyed the Lord each time he told him to act.
We see Joseph take Mary as his wife as instructed by the angel of the Lord in verse 20 of chapter 1.
Joseph was instructed to go to Egypt in chapter 2, verse 13, and he obeyed, taking the child and Mary to Egypt.
In Chapter 2, we see two more times when Joseph obeyed the angel of the Lord. Check these out.
Matthew 2:19-23, “After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth.
Joseph was faithful to Mary and the Lord.
When God spoke to Joseph in his dreams, Joseph got up and obeyed. Again, his faithfulness to the Lord was important.
Don’t you wish you had that kind of obedience? Some might say they wished the Lord would speak to them that clearly.
Whatever the case, Joseph’s faithfulness and obedience to the Lord were evident.
There’s more to him than just a position next to Mary. We can learn a lot from Joseph’s life.
Next up is Mary. Join me next time as we dive into the mother of Jesus – a young virgin girl from Nazareth, a town in Galilee.