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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on December 25, 2016 under 2016 |

Christmas Sunday, December 25, 2016 from Matthew 1-2

Theme: God revealed the precious value of Christ to us through the things that He assigned Joseph to provide for Him.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

I had a wonderful visit the other day with another pastor in the area. We talked about how in our younger years—whenever it came to preaching about Christmas—we used to think that we needed to come up with some new angle. How could we tell the old, familiar Christmas story in a new and fresh and interesting way? But now, after so many Christmases, we realize that ‘a new angle’ isn’t really ever needed. The simple fact that God became flesh, and was born into the world for us, is sufficiently wonderful that it is fresh every time it is told. How can you make such a thing more ‘interesting’ than it already is?

So; this morning, I’d like to just begin by reading that old familiar story again—and allow it to be wonderful all on its own. It’s told to us in one of the great Christmas passages of the Bible. Luke 1:26-38 says;

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).

What a wondrous story! And nothing can be added to it that could make it more so.

But this morning, I would like to highlight a part of this wondrous story that doesn’t always get our attention on Christmas. There’s a very important person in the story of the birth of our Savior who didn’t, at first, get to hear the announcement that was given to Mary. He was brought in on it later. His name is Joseph; and I hope that, this morning, we can spend a little time thinking about him.

* * * * * * * * * *

I have just started reading at the beginning the New Testament again last week. I encountered Joseph’s story in my reading of another great ‘Christmas’ section of the Bible—in the first and second chapters of Matthew’s Gospel. And I was impressed in a fresh way with the very important role that Joseph played in the story of our Savior’s birth.

I wonder if you have ever had the experience of being entrusted with the care of something unusual and precious. I have had a couple of experiences like that in my life that stand out to me.

Many years ago, for example, I was working as a graphic artist in the Seattle area. I was assigned to spend a day with Mr. Milton Kuolt—the founder and CEO of Horizon Air—in the airline’s corporate office. My job was to follow Mr. Kuolt’s instructions and directions as he was putting together a set of charts and graphs for their annual share-holder’s meeting. The day was getting late; and there was still a lot of work to do. So, Mr. Kuolt handed me the keys, said that he was going home, and told me to lock up.

There I was—a poor, insignificant 22-year-old graphic artist—standing there with the keys to Horizon Air in my hand! I felt very honored to be entrusted with the keys; and held on to them tightly! “Better not misplace these!” I thought! (I don’t still have them, by the way.)

The other time was a few years ago. I was involved in the Luis Palau 2008 Portland CityFest. 144,000 attended—with many people making a decision for Jesus Christ for the first time. At the end of the festival, it was my responsibility to take the decision forms that people filled out—indicating that they had placed their faith in Jesus Christ, and that they wanted someone to contact them and help them grow in their faith—and carry those forms from one side of the Portland Waterfront Park area and get them locked-up and secure in the security building on the other side of the park.

I had to carry a big armload of several envelopes filled with these precious response forms and the personal information they contained. I didn’t dare drop any along the way. And as I made the journey—a long walk along the waterfront area—I grabbed a student I was working with at Multnomah Biblical Seminary and asked him to walk with me, and sort of serve as my ‘bodyguard’. I thought of how precious and important all those forms are, and what a privilege it was to be entrusted with their care and safekeeping.

I’ll bet that you can think of such experiences you’ve had in your life—moments when you were entrusted with something valuable and important. Well; just imagine what a job it was that God had given to Joseph! He was entrusted with the care of the precious Child that was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit. He was called upon to provide the care and protection of God in infant human flesh!—the Child upon whom all of the hopes of fallen humanity rested! What a privilege! What an honor! And what an unspeakably great responsibility!

And I ask that we take some time to consider his story this morning. I believe that God has revealed something to us of the precious value of that Child to you and me—born on Christmas Day—through the things that He called Joseph to provide for Him.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; as we turn together to the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, we see that God called Joseph to give the holy Child in the womb of Mary …


You know something of the story already, don’t you? The young woman Mary was betrothed in marriage to Joseph. A betrothal, in those days, was as strong and binding as a marriage in terms of the couple’s commitment to one another; although Joseph and Mary had not yet come together in the marriage ceremony.

But then, some news came to Joseph that must have struck him with great sadness and broken-heartedness. It was told to him that his beloved betrothed Mary was with child. How this news came to him is something we’re not told. It may have been that they were still living some distance from one another; and that a friend, who heard about it, broke the news to Joseph.

Joseph, we’re told, was a righteous man. And so, such news would have been a terrible blow to him. He had not heard the thing that the angel had told Mary; and so, he naturally assumed that Mary was unfaithful and had been with another man. And being not only a righteous man but also a just and kind man, he tossed around in his head how he could go about bringing an end to the betrothal and putting Mary away—almost like a divorce; but in a way that did not dishonor her and destroy her life.

We can imagine that Joseph agonized for some time over the matter. And the Bible tells us that it was then that God gave Joseph the news that had also been given to Mary. Matthew 1:20-21 says;

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Did you know that Joseph was of royal blood? He was a descendant of King David—through the royal lineage of King Solomon. And this is very important to know. You see; long ago, God had made a promise to King David. It’s one of the most important promises in the Old Testament. God told David;

When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

That’s why the angel greeted Joseph by calling him, “Joseph, son of David”. Joseph was an inheritor of that promise from God because he was of the lineage of David through Solomon. Mary was also of royal lineage, by the way. She was a descendant of King David—but not in a way that made her an inheritor of that promise, because she was a descendant through the lineage of David’s son Nathan.

There’s something else I need to tell you. Do you remember how God told David that ‘if his son commits iniquity, He would chasten him’? Well; several generations after David, the kings that were born of David through the lineage of Solomon disobeyed God; and as a result, God placed a curse on them. No king that came physically from their lineage would be allowed to sit on the throne over the kingdom of Judah any longer. How then could God’s promise to David be kept?

The way God solved this great problem is one of the greatest wonders of the Christmas story. The Child that in Mary’s womb was of the lineage of King David in terms of the flesh—but not of the royal lineage of Solomon. Joseph was an inheritor of the promise through Solomon—but of the lineage that was cursed. And so; God kept His promise to David by sending His own Son to this world to be born of the biological lineage of David through Mary; and then, to be the inheritor of the promise to King David by adoption through Joseph!

I wish we had more time to explore that wonderful miracle together. But one of the ways that God called Joseph to care for the Child born on Christmas Day was by adopting Him as his own and giving Him a name. And it was a name of great royalty for which He was perfectly suited to bear by being born of a virgin.

That’s why Matthew’s Gospel goes on to tell us;

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (vv. 22-23).

Now; just think of what a remarkable responsibility that was—and also, of what a hard thing it must have been for a righteous man like Joseph to do. Eyebrows would be raised. People who only heard of the circumstances on a strictly human level would question Joseph’s character. But as we read on, it says;

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus (vv. 24-25).

Joseph was obedient to God’s call. He took this miracle Child, God in human flesh, as his own adopted son. He gave Him a name—both a literal name, and a name of royalty.

And in giving this responsibility to Joseph, God showed to all of us that Jesus truly is the promised Son of King David.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; the story goes on. We’re familiar with the story of wise men—’magi’, the Bible calls them—who came from the East because they were knowledgeable in reading and interpreting the signs in the stars. They saw a star that indicated to them that the promised King of the Jews had been born; and they came to Jerusalem to worship Him. (You and I may wonder how it was that they could know that from a star. But however it may perplex us, at least we know one thing: They were right!)

And we know of how, when they came to Jerusalem to King Herod—who ruled over the Jewish people, but was not himself a Jewish man—and asked him ‘where the newborn King of the Jews’ was, he became troubled. We’re also told that all of Jerusalem was troubled with him; and that’s because he was an evil and paranoid and greatly demented man; and they were unsure what horrors he might unleash upon his people because of this.

And we know that—in a phony way—he sent the wise man out to find the Child; asking that they come and tell him so that he could come and worship him too. Really, though, he wanted to know where the infant Jesus was so that he could kill Him. And we know that the wise men were led by the star to where Jesus was; and that they worshiped him. And we also know that the wise men were warned by God in a dream (There’s a dream again!) not to go back to Herod, but to return another way.

And it’s then that we find yet another thing that this important man Joseph was called upon to give to the infant Child Jesus; and that was …


Matthew tells us—in Matthew 2:13-15—what happened after the wise men left:

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son” (Matthew 2:13-15).

Can you just imagine what a remarkable thing this would be to ask of poor Joseph? Just think of what a frightening task this was!—to steal the Child and His mother away under the cover of night; and get them to safety to another country, while a king was sending his hit-men out to chase Him down, find Him, and kill Him! Joseph was just a humble carpenter, after all. He wasn’t exactly Indiana Jones!

But he did as God commanded. And as it turned out, it was absolutely necessary. We all know—but won’t take the time to read—the horrible thing that Herod did in his desperate passion to kill the Christ-Child.

Personally, I am of the opinion that Herod was just the devil’s puppet. It was really the devil himself that was using Herod to kill the Savior of our souls. The devil knew that this Child was destined to be the Seed of the woman—promised long ago in Genesis 3—who would crush his head. But once again, Joseph’s faithfulness to God’s remarkable call on his life shows us how precious Jesus Christ is to us.

In giving this task to Joseph, God showed us that Jesus is the Conqueror of the enemy of our souls. And He has won the victory for us at the cross!

* * * * * * * * * *

When I read Matthew 2:19—where it says, “Now when Herod was dead”—I can’t help adding, in my mind, “and there was a sigh of relief in the land of Israel ”.

But Joseph and his little family were not in Israel. He had taken them to Egypt for safety’s sake. And I even wonder if it might have been tempting to Joseph to stay there. Egypt isn’t so bad. No one would be trying to kill his family there. But the problem is that the Child that Mary had given birth to was destined to be the King of the Jews. That Child must be in the land of God’s promise—where it was told in the Scriptures that He would be.

And so; that leads us to yet another task that Joseph was given. He was called by God to provide the infant Jesus Christ with …


I don’t know if you have noticed all these dreams that keep coming up. (There was another ‘Joseph’ in the Bible; and he was famous for his dreams too!) Matthew 2:19-21 says;

Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel (Matthew 1:19-21).

It must have been hard for Joseph to have to live like an alien and a sojourner; and to travel with his tiny and tender family all these distances back and forth. But it was necessary, for the promises of God to be fully kept, that the promised King of the Jews be in the land of the Jewish people. As the angel told Mary, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever …”

And so; once again, God used Joseph’s obedience to teach us yet another important thing about Jesus Christ. In giving the task to Joseph of transporting the Child safely back to Israel, God was showing us that Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s prophecies. Not one word that the Scriptures promise about Him would fail.

* * * * * * * * * *

And may I add one more thing? It wasn’t just that the Lord Jesus would grow up and live in the land of Israel; but it was God’s intention that He grow up in and be from a very specific place. This is where Joseph provided one more, very important thing for the Child born on Christmas day; and that is …


As Joseph transported his wife and the precious Christ-Child back to Israel, God directed His steps in an unusual way. Herod was dead; but his son Archelaus was now on the throne; and the son was proving to be as brutal a tyrant as his father was. And so, Matthew tells us;

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:22-23).

This was Joseph’s own home-town. And now it would be the town in which Jesus would grow up; and it would be the town in which He would learn His adopted father’s trade of carpentry; and it would be the town that He would be known to everyone as having come from. And this is very important. He would live in the regions of Galilee—up north from the land of Judah; and this would be that portion of the nation of Israel that was next to the gateway to the world of the Gentile nations. And what’s more, He would be called ‘a Nazarene’. Nazareth was a humble little town—despised by some. Do you remember that someone once said of Jesus; “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Jesus did not come from Jerusalem. He did not come from Alexandria or Rome or Athens or New York. He came from a small, humble, almost-despised town that was right next to the gateway to the Gentile world.

In obeying God’s call, and providing the establishment of Jesus in the town of Nazareth of Galilee, God was showing us that Jesus truly is the Savior for the whole world.

* * * * * * * * * *

Well; I’m very glad that Joseph—this very important man in the Christmas story—obeyed God; aren’t you? We owe him a debt of thanks for being so faithful doing all the things that God called him to do for Jesus.

And by his obedience, God has made some important things clear to us about Jesus Himself—that He is the promised Son of David; that He is the Conqueror of the enemy of our souls; that He is the fulfillment of God’s prophetic promises; and that He truly is the Savior for the whole world.

Have you received this precious Christmas Gift from God that Joseph so faithfully kept for us?

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