Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Joseph’s Christmas
Pastor Steve Schell
Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-23
God wants to do miracles in and through our lives, but miracles come with price-tags. The very process we must go through in order to receive a miracle will leave us changed forever. It lifts us to a new perspective and requires us to walk on a new path. Joseph is a model of this. He was a man of faith, or at least he became one, and thereby a true “son of Abraham.” His humility and obedience played a very important part in the miracle of the Incarnation. You might think that something so close to God’s heart would result in Joseph’s life being easy. But the truth is it was just the opposite. By obeying God, he was drawn into a great spiritual battle which required him to take numerous steps of faith, probably for the rest of his life. Surprisingly, the miracle made his life harder, not easier. Yet it also drew him closer to God than he could ever have imagined.

So, this weekend as we observe Christmas from Joseph’s point of view, we’ll soon find that his example calls us to a deeper, more dangerous walk with God, but one which also promises us far greater intimacy with Him. Sure, there’s a price to pay for miracles, but for those who long to be closer to God it’s a small price compared to the “surpassing value of knowing… Him” (Php 3:8-10).
1. God required Joseph to take a step of obedience that would be misunderstood by others (vs 18-21).
• Nazareth was a small, mountain village of around 350 people (mostly related to one another).
• Mary was pregnant and people would soon discover.
• By sending “her away secretly” (v 19) Joseph would give her a certificate of divorce and she would go to her relative Elizabeth in the “hill country” of Judea (Lk 1:39, 56). Mary spent three months there.
• The angel told him to marry her (v 20).
• Either Joseph would be suspected to be the father, or he would be considered a fool for marrying an unfaithful woman.
• Later they would have at least six children together (Mt 13:55, 56).
• Us: God will ask us to take steps of faith which seem unreasonable and may embarrass us.

2. When the miracle did arrive it was different than he expected (vs 24, 25)
• Joseph and Mary had undoubtedly prayed for Messiah to come since they were children.
• They had been taught he would be a descendant of David and would become a powerful king. Certainly neither expected the Incarnation.
• Us: God answers with miracles that are according to His plan, not ours (as opposed to making a list of what you want and praying it into existence).

3. The miracle taught Joseph deeper insights into God’s Word (vs 22, 23)
• How many times had Joseph heard Isaiah 7:14, but never understood its true prophetic meaning. Now he watched as his virgin wife gave birth to a child conceived by the Holy Spirit.
• Now he learned how literally the name, “Immanuel” was to be taken. He watched the birth of God’s Son.
• Us: We discover God meant His promises far more literally than we take them, and afterward we discover clear promises hidden in the Word we never saw before (we read with new eyes).

4. Joseph discovered that miracles might be fiercely opposed by the very people you would expect to welcome them (2:1-8).
• Miracles are disturbing. Some very religious people, even religious leaders, may express surprising levels of hostility when you would have thought they would have been glad to see God move.
• Herod and the temple leaders were being told their Messiah was born.
• Miracles reveal the profound difference between religion and relationship with God.
• When God shows up the hidden attitudes of the heart are exposed.
• Nazareth (Lk 4:14-16, 24, 28-30)
• Us: When we try to walk in faith or when a miracle takes place in our life some family, friends or even fellow-church goers may become angry or distant.

5. Joseph also found the miracle was joyfully received by people he would not have expected to do so (2:1, 2, 9-19).
• Magi are wise men or astrologers who interpret dreams or messages from the gods. (Da 1:20; 2:27; 5:15).
• Astronomical observations told them of the birth of the great Jewish Messiah.
• Daniel and Ezekiel (and others) had lived and written as a captive of the Babylonians and the Persians.
• The Chinese reported a star that appeared and then disappeared in 4 B.C. (E.E.Ellis, The New Bible Dictionary, Eerdmans, under “magi,” p. 765, 766).
• The magi traveled nearly 900 miles to worship Him (vs 2, 11).
• Us: We should avoid judging people by “externals.” There are “light-seekers” (Jn 3:21) all over the earth. Some people will surprise us.

6. Joseph was drawn into a series of events that did not end with the miracle. He had to take further steps in order to preserve what God had given (2:13-23).
• Jesus was born within the shadow of the Herodium (a massive hilltop fortress Herod built near Bethlehem).
• Herod “the Great” died in 4 B.C.
• Us: Receiving a miracle and keeping the miracle are two different things. The enemy will try to take away what God has given (v 16), but God will help us preserve His gift. In a sense, once we receive a miracle, the process starts over.

7. Questions
• Name a miracle you have personally seen take place (any size).
• Has God ever done a miracle in your own life? What changes did it bring?
• In what ways can you relate to what Joseph went through?
• If God would give you anything you asked for what would it be?

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