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Dec 23, 2018

Joy to the World

Joy to the World

Passage: Luke 2:1-14

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Prepare the Way

Category: Hope, Peace, Joy

Keywords: christmas eve, hope, joy, peace

For unto us a child is born, our Savior, who is Christ the King.

Scripture:

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother, Mary, was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he 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. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
- Matthew 1:18-21 

Devotional:

This is a familiar passage to most who grew up in the church. And what an amazing tale it is. A woman carrying a child conceived by the Holy Spirit? An appearance by an angel in a dream? A message that a Savior will be born? That's some pretty impressive prose. 

But, perhaps due to the times we live in now, what sticks out most to me in this passage is the phrase "Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." What a concept, huh? 

It seems to me that the world is full of those itching to expose people to public disgrace. Everyone with a Google search button is on the prowl to display unsavory details of people's lives. Whether it's pouring over a young man's social media tweets from when he was a teenager to having a phone video camera at the ready during any interaction in a public place, we have a generation of folks lying in wait for something salacious to happen. The prospect of creating a viral video seems to make people feel powerful and important. 

It might behoove us to take a lesson from Joseph . . a man who according to the culture has every right to throw Mary to the wolves. It's quite likely that his friends and his family encouraged him to save face by shaming her. And yet we read that Joseph was righteous. Other translations of verse 19 call him just, good, noble, and a man of stern principle. While he is a man with all the power here, he acts out of humility which should not be confused with weakness. Perhaps Asheritah Ciuciu describes humility best in her Advent Devotional, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus. This kind of humility "can best be understood as power under control." 

Of course, we know that in the following verses an angel of the Lord urges Joseph to go a step further and take Mary as his wife thus committing to raising her child as his own. Admirably, he follows that command in obedience. A great moment, to be sure. But I'm still stunned by the brave kindness it took for Joseph - before the angel even appears to him - to shield Mary from disgrace. 

Clearly, the Lord saw something good and righteous in Joseph well before He sent the angel. He knew that Jesus would take notice of the character of the earthly father who would raise him. Seems to me that, as usual, the Lord makes no mistakes in who He chooses to fulfill His purposes. Seems to me that in a world that might need a few lessons in humility, kindness, and principles, we might look no further than the powerful message of Matthew 1:19. 

Prayer:

Gracious Lord. We are grateful that You waste no chapter, no verse, no single word in your message to us. Thank You for the lesson of Joseph's powerful compassion. Thank You for forgiving us our need to find power and worth in ways that hurt others. Help us to be more like Joseph. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Written by Jennifer Skinner, member of Arcola Church and a Texan (Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient, funny husband, and three very impatient, funny boys/ball players. She is also a blogger, The View From Behind Home Plate, who writes about finding extraordinary grace and blessings among the cleats and dirt and testosterone that fill her ordinary days.