Monday, December 26, 2011

“A Man From Nazareth” (Joseph Matthew 1:18-24)

S-1287 CE/3B 12/24/11 Hymns: (O) 379; 368; 380; 361; (S) #376; 363(C) #387

Text: Micah 5:2-5; Galatians 3:26-4:7; Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 1:18-24

Theme: “A Man From Nazareth” (Joseph, Matthew 1:18-24)

A First Person Narrative Sermon will be preached here, Armour, SD

I will enter dressed in simple clothing of the time of Christ. ! The text for Christmas Eve will be read by one of the saints from Matthew

In Nomini Iesu,

For a long time I had been waiting for my wedding day to the love of my life. Just like any other Jewish boy, I was hoping, yearning and dreaming that the woman I was engaged to would help me build my home and raise a family in accordance to the Torah.

When our parents gave us their blessings, we got engaged. Our village people congratulated us and wished us to have a happy life and Mary would be blessed as Rachel and Leah were. We were so excited and waited patiently for the wedding day. I worked very hard in my shop preparing my home for the woman who will share my house and give me children. PAUSE (move to another location)

In the midst of my joy, you can’t believe the pain she brought upon me—like a knife going through my heart. I bled with the news. (Sit down and rub my beard) When she told me the news, here is what went through my mind. What audacity! What foolishness! What does she think any way? Does she think that I am a fool? Doesn’t she know that it takes two people to have a Baby?

But no, she came to my shop one day and told me the news—news that caused me to see my life and dreams unravel. I couldn’t believe my ears, my Mary, the one I knew all of my life, the one I watched grow up in my village, the one who was going to be my wife—now she stands before me and tells me SHE IS GOING TO HAVE A BABY! (Pace back and forth)

I couldn’t look at her. Pain seared in my heart like fire. Hurt was written all over my face. I was angry. I was mad and anguish filled my mind. Just as I was about to leave her, she said, “The Baby that she was carrying is God’s Son and she got pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

I didn’t believe her. But because I love her, I didn’t want to harm or hurt her. I want to spare the love of my life the pain of what the Law requires. You see according to the Torah’s teaching I would be the first one to pick up the stone (pick up a stone) and cast it upon her. Then her father and brothers would have to follow suit and then the whole town would participate until she would fall dead. I couldn’t imagine her bleeding and bruised to death. Though she hurt me with the news of the pregnancy, I couldn’t envision the Baby in her womb to be stricken, smitten and afflicted for her sins. (Is. 53) I was trying to figure out what to do and how to get out from the marriage contract without causing a scene. (Move towards the table and sit down)

I went home dejected. That night I sat at the table with my family but hardly touched my food. My father asked what was wrong, but I gave him no answer. And oh, when I went to bed, I tossed and turned and sleep didn’t come easy. I kept playing in my mind the moment she told me about the Baby. I JUST COULDN’T GET IT OUT OF MY MIND. I don’t know when I finally fell asleep. While sleeping something spoke in my ears; I awoke not knowing if I was dreaming or it was really happening. (Shake my head back and forth)

As I sat at the edge of the mat thinking about what has taken place; the angel of the Lord stood by me and said: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call [H]is name Jesus, for [H]e will save [H]is people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:20b-21) PAUSE. (Extra long, and move to another place)

I had been raised in a good Jewish home and was taught the Torah in the Synagogue. I had read the prophecy of Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord [H]imself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call [H]is name Immanuel” (7:14). But would it really happen to me, Joseph a mere carpenter from Nazareth? Could it be that it is happening to Mary—my Mary.

I laid back on the mat and tried to go back to sleep, but sleep wouldn’t come. I thought about the words of Mary and the words of the angel and wanted the day to arrive soon. As the morning sun shone upon the Galilean hills I hastened to Mary to tell her of my visitor and I felt ashamed that I doubted her words and thought so low of her.

I asked her to forgive me and grant me the privilege to be her husband and be the protector of God’s Son. Mary smiled and agreed. And soon we were married. Laughter filled our home. As her belly began to grow, we thought of this Child promised by God to Adam and Eve in the Garden—and we were so joyful. We were so excited at the thought of the birth of Emmanuel, God with us—in the flesh. Can it really be…?

Late into the pregnancy a decree came that brought us both discomfort. Caesar Augusts had decreed that all people return to their hometowns to register for the census. I didn’t feel comfortable with that decree but had to obey the law. I had to shut down my shop and take my wife in her state all the way to Bethlehem, {raise my voice} 95 miles away, a journey of 4-5 days. I was nervous! I was afraid! I wasn’t sure if Mary could handle the trip. Besides, what of the Child?” But Mary comforted me saying, “The Lord will guide our way.”

We started out. I set Mary on the donkey and I walked along beside her. All along there were other people from our village traveling too. So we felt safe. Our bread and cheese sustained us on the journey, but the nights were a little chilly. As we got near Bethlehem, Mary was getting nervous and kept telling me “Joseph, the time is getting close we need to find a place to have the Baby!”

My hands hurt as I went from one inn to the next knocking at the doors to see if there was a place for us to stay. But every place, I went, they told us, “Sorry, there is no room in the Inn!” As the night was descending, I was getting nervous and the voices all said the same thing: “There is no room in the Inn!” Mary was getting uncomfortable and I still didn’t have a place for the night. The final Inn we stopped at, the owner Moshe Ben Yehuda and his wife Sarah had compassion on us and allowed us to stay in the animals stall.

Oh, we were happy to be in a warm place and out of the wind. As we were settling to go to sleep, Mary said, “Joseph, its time! The Baby is going to come!” As a young husband, I didn’t know what to do. But Mary, my lovely wife asked me to go and get Sarah. When Sarah came she helped Mary and soon, our Son—God’s Son was born and we gave Him the name “Jesus” as the angel had told us because He will save His people from their sins. Then, I remembered again the words of Isaiah, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel”

(Smiling now and with eyes lifted heavenward), Yes, yes, Mary and I beheld Him with our own eyes. We were so joyful, that God has answered our prayers. Emmanuel has come. We were so happy that we had been given the privilege to be the guardians of God’s Son.

It wasn’t long and there were all kinds of commotion. Shepherds came saying to us, “Angels filled the skies above them and told them the good news: “That today, in the city of David a Savior has been born.” Oh, the joy that filled our hearts at the thought and kindness of God that He has not forgotten His people. But He has fulfilled the promise of sending a Redeemer to restore us back to Him—the One who would forgive our sins; the One who is from the line of David—and will sit on His Throne forever.

But at first Jesus didn’t appear to me to be a king. But when we took Him to the temple, two elderly children of Abraham greeted us. Simeon spoke these words, “Now, Lord, let Thy servant depart in peace for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared for all people.” And He also said to Mary: “This Child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35). And Anna, a prophetes, “gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

All of these people, shepherds, angels, Simeon and Anna all spoke of Him as God’s Son, who has come to redeem His people and forgive their sins. He would be the future King of Israel

If the real king, not Herod was sitting on the throne, I would be in line to be the king. For, I too, come from Royal blood. The blood of David runs through Mary’s and my veins. But God didn’t choose me to be the King of Israel, instead the Baby born to Mary He would be the True King and whose Kingdom would have no end. PAUSE.

Two years has now passed and the angel visited me yet again, and told me to hurry up and take the Child because someone was trying to kill Him. In the middle of the night, I gathered all of our belongings and fled to Egypt, a long, long journey. With the help of our God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we made it safely. After the death of Herod, who was trying to kill Him, we felt safe to return.

From there, I returned to my home town Nazareth and lived and worked making sure that Jesus and His brothers were taught the Hebrew Scriptures. What a delight to be home with Mary and listen to all the children had learn in Synagogue school. But it wasn’t anything like the time we traveled to Jerusalem.

When Jesus our oldest son, was 12 years old, we traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. While there, Jesus amazed us by His gifts of teaching as He was talking with the Jewish leaders in the temple. As I looked at Him I marveled at His wisdom and knowledge and I praised God for the privilege of learning from my Son about Gods’ love. PAUSE.

I know what is coming for my son. I heard the words of the angel. I heard the words of Simeon who told Mary that “A sword will pierce her heart.” And I remember the prophecy of Isaiah, “Surely [H]e has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed [H]im stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But [H]e was wounded for our transgressions; [H]e was crushed for our iniquities; upon [H]im was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with [H]is stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:4-6). I, Joseph, son of David, didn’t live to see it face to face like Mary did, but I know and I believe and I praise my Father in heaven for the gift of salvation.

Therefore, I encourage you too, as the sons and daughters of Abraham and Sarah that you too, know these truth and by the power of the Holy Spirit, believe—that Emmanuel has come—Jesus is born to forgive us our sins and give us His salvation.

Joseph leaves the stage.

No comments: