Have you ever been in a sticky situation?
We’re going to look at the life of Joseph, who was in a sticky situation. He’s engaged to Mary, you may have heard of her. Mary is pregnant, but Joseph is not the dad. This looks really bad on Joseph and Mary. This was a sticky situation that Joseph had to respond to even though it wasn’t Joseph’s fault. I can imagine that Joseph was thinking, “How is this happening to me right now?”
Sometimes God asks us to do hard things that we don’t want to do and that we could come up with a lot of excuses not to do. God asked Joseph to do something that wasn’t easy. We’re going to see what God asks of Joseph and how Joseph responds in this sticky situation.
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: 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. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:18-19)
Here’s what we know about Joseph from these few verses:
- He was engaged to Mary. While they weren’t married yet, engagement was more serious then than it was now. They were basically married but just living apart until it was official. Everyone considered them married, just not living together. Matthew even calls Joseph Mary’s husband in verse 19.
- His fiancé, Mary, became pregnant by the Holy Spirit and Joseph didn’t even know. As far as he knew, it could’ve been another guy. When he found out, he was probably upset because he thought his fiancé was unfaithful to him.
- He was a righteous man.
- He decided to divorce Mary secretly, so not to embarrass her. This tells us Joseph had character because he didn’t want Mary to suffer.
“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. 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 1:20-21)
An angel of the Lord came to Joseph. I always wondered why it was in a dream and not in person like it was for Mary. Maybe God knew Joseph couldn’t back talk in a dream or question Him in a dream like Mary did.
- Don’t be afraid. This is the same thing Gabriel told Mary. There is a common theme of fear here, but totally real. God knew that’s what they needed to hear first, so the first thing the angel does when he comes to Mary and Joseph is comfort them.
- The baby, a boy, was conceived by the Holy Spirit. What a comforting thought for Joseph! Now he knew that Mary wasn’t unfaithful.
- You need to name the baby Jesus. Jesus is actually the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means “The Lord saves.” This was God foreshadowing who Jesus was going to be.
- Your child will save people from their sins. Now Joseph knows what his son will do. What if your parents received a message before you were born about what you were going to do? “You’re going to have a kid and she’s going to be an astronaut.” Joseph now knew that his son would be the Savior of the world. This child has not even been born yet, and Joseph already knows that he is going to save people from their sins. While this blows our minds, and I’m sure Joseph’s as well, this is how our God chose to work.
But wait, there’s more. Not only will Jesus save people, but He will fulfill a prophecy. Matthew tells us this by referring to a scripture in the Old Testament in verse 22.
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).”(Matthew 1:22-23)
Matthew reminds us that all of this is going on to fulfill a prophecy from Isaiah 7:14. A prophecy means something that God told a prophet, one of his spokespersons, to say with the knowledge that it would eventually come true. The prophecy referenced here that God spoke to Isaiah was written hundreds of years before the coming of Jesus Christ as a baby.
The entire Bible points to Jesus, the Messiah. The angel that came to Joseph said that even details like the virgin birth and his name align with the prophecy in the Old Testament. This Jesus is who the Jews had been waiting for hundreds of years!
The angel said Jesus wouId be called Immanuel, which means God with us. This was a foreign concept to the people in the Old Testament. To them, God was the creator who they were only able to talk to through a priest and animal sacrifices. He was loving and good, but there was sin between them and God, which created a barrier.
The fact that the angel called Jesus Immanuel was a huge deal. Jesus came to Earth as a human. He was literally God with us. We serve a personal God. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to the Earth to save us. And now, His Spirit lives inside of us when we enter into a relationship with Him through His son. This is the Gospel. We don’t deserve God to be with us, but He loves us and wants a relationship with us.
Now we’re going to see what happens when Joseph wakes up in verse 24.
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”(Matthew 1:24-25)
When Joseph got up, he did what God commanded him to do.
- He married Mary.
- He didn’t sleep with her until she gave birth.
- He named his son Jesus.
Can you imagine what Joseph was feeling when we woke up? We don’t know for sure, but here’s what it could’ve been:
- Joy knowing Mary that wasn’t unfaithful to him because the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
- Fear of what others might think if he obeys God. People talk. If anyone thought that they had conceived Jesus before they were married, the would’ve been looked down upon.
- Confusion/Excitement when he realized that the prophecy of Isaiah was coming true because of his earthly son who he had to care for and discipline.
Even in the midst of all of these feelings, Joseph didn’t waver in his decision to obey. We have to train ourselves to have the faith that Joseph had. When God asks us to talk to a friend about Jesus, there are lots of feelings like fear and excitement. Feelings aren’t always bad, but we can’t base our decisions on them. We can’t let feelings dictate our obedience to God.
Joseph could’ve made lots of excuses to not obey what God asked him to do. He could’ve said, “I’m not married yet, I can’t raise a son that’s not mine, I can’t be the Savior of the world’s dad, this is too much.” We have lots of excuses we could make not to obey – “I’m too busy, there’s not enough time, I might be laughed at or ruin my reputation, I’m not very good with words. “Giving into these excuses is nothing compared to being used by God and a part of His story. We have to remember who our God is and that He gives us everything we need to obey Him. We have to go to scripture and pray when we are doubting God or think that we can’t do what He asks of us.
If Joseph had decided to disobey God and give into his feelings and excuses, God still could’ve moved. God wouldn’t have been thrown off. Jesus still could’ve been born. God would’ve used someone else to fulfill the prophecies and to raise Jesus. Only Joseph would’ve missed out because of his fear and excuses.
Our highest desire should be to bring God glory. Therefore, whatever He asks us to do, we should do it with no excuses. God doesn’t need us, but He wants to use us, just like he used Joseph.
We have to be willing to obey whatever the cost.