He comes to change lives (Matt 1:18-25)

Preached on 12-21-2020 by Ken Yeo

Imagine you are facing a difficult situation in life, you know what God wants you to do, but if you choose to obey God, you know you would pay the price to follow Christ and face some challenges in life, possibly including some misunderstandings from people around you. If you choose to ignore God and go on your own way, you may live a life that pleases others, except God. What would you choose?

Today we will be looking into Matthew 1:18-25, it is about the events that happened in the life of Joseph 2000 years ago. I will read Matt 1:18-25 out loud for us. 

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “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. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. 

Let’s pray.

Joseph is a carpenter from Nazareth, a small town in the hill north of Jazreel valley in the land of Israel. His father’s name is Jacob, just like Jacob in the Old Testament, he named his son Joseph. It suggests that Jacob wanted his son Joseph to be faithful to Jehovah God just like Joseph in Genesis. His father must be delighted in Joseph because Matthew tells us that Joseph was righteous, which means he was a man who fears God. He has met his dream girl, probably it was an arranged marriage by his father. Joseph wanted to get married and start a family. He dreamed about raising children according to the Torah. Joseph and Mary were engaged and were planning for their wedding. They were in love, happy and excited about the life they would be building together. 

Imagine you were raised in a Christian family, your father loved the Lord very much. You were raised to fear God. You are a good son, your father is proud of you because you are a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. You dreamed about starting a family with a godly Christian lady and raising children according to the teaching of the bible. And then you met a beautiful sweet Christian lady, you fell in love and eventually asked her to marry you and she said yes! You were in love, your heart was filled with joy. You were excited to be a husband and eventually to be a father.

Now back to the story. However, while preparing for the wedding, Joseph found out his fiancée was pregnant, but not by him. His life was suddenly turned upside down. It changed from joyful to sadness, from sunshine to gloomy. his plan was ruined by this unfaithful lady, his dream to build a godly family was crushed. He was worried that he could disappoint his father and God. He thought about divorce. However, he did not want to bring public shame to Mary, so he came up with a plan to divorce her privately, without anyone knowing. But what will happen to Mary? How will she raise a child without a husband? And the child? It will be bad for the child to grow up without a father, who will teach him the laws? These questions may have come across the mind of Joseph, or maybe not, either way, we were not told. All we know is Joseph had made a decision to divorce her. His future is more important than the welfare of Mary or the child.

Now Mary probably had told Joseph that she was not unfaithful. It was the Holy Spirit that conceived her. As a good Jews, Joseph must have known the verse Matthew has quoted on verse 23, that is the prophet Isaiah has prophesied this, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” “But who would believe that? It was prophesied 700 years ago, that is no way it would happen right now, not in this little village, especially to a woman I want to get married to!” Thoughts like this must have gone through the mind of Joseph.

Imagine that you are planning for the wedding with your fiancee, and then you notice that her stomach is getting bigger daily, she is pregnant! The bad news is, you and she are not married yet! She was not pregnant by you. How would you feel? If this happened to me I would be shocked, and then I probably would be angry at her and felt sad because she had betrayed me. She was unfaithful to me, even before we got married! Now your plan to start a godly family has been crushed. How would you feel when your plan was interrupted by bad news? Angry? Fear? Sad? Disappointed? Confused?

Well, I know none of us are in this situation, for we are all married men. But you might be facing a different difficulty in life right now. You may have big dreams and have made big plans for it, but suddenly you found out there is a problem. Maybe you have a plan to serve God in a certain way, at church or at Cru. But suddenly some bad news came, maybe the church asked someone else to serve instead of you, or maybe your position at Cru was changed unexpectedly. Maybe you felt that you were betrayed and were cheated by someone you trust. You may be afraid that you would disappoint your wife or someone else.

At this point, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told Joseph who the baby was and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel also told him to name the baby Jesus, which means Joshua in Hebrews, the meaning of Jesus is Jehovah saves. The angel explained to Joseph that the name means the baby will save his people from their sins!

Now Joseph was in a very difficult situation, he either took Mary in and raised the child as his own or to divorce her and find another Jewish woman to marry and have nothing to do with the child. It was a life changing decision, this decision will alter his entire life. “What should I do?” “People are going to find out because Mary’s stomach will get bigger and bigger every day! What should I tell dad?” Thoughts like these were probably going through his mind.

Have you had a similar kind of experience? Are you experiencing a similar difficulty at this stage of your life? Have you ever faced a difficult situation, and you felt that God had shown up and had spoken to you? God may have spoken to you through the bible, through another Christian, through a sermon, or through a situation in life. It seems that God wants you to go one way, it is the harder way. Maybe the way was not your original plan, or maybe people would misunderstand you if you obey God, what would you do? Do you want to be obedient to God, or do you care so much about what other people think and would disregard what God has revealed to you?

Now look how did Joseph to respond to God’s command, he took Mary as his wife but did not have physical relationships with her until she had given birth to a son. As a result, he became the earthly father of the most special child in the history of mankind, the child is the ultimate son of David, the savior of His people from their sins, He is God living in the midst of men, His name is Jesus.

When we make the right decision to be obedient to God’s leading during difficult situations in life, we will also enjoy special blessings from God, that is the special presence of Christ when He reigns in our heart.

Why did Jesus come into this world? He came to change lives. He came to forgive our sins, to rescue us from our sinful nature so we can live a life that glorifies God. He wants to live in us, he wants to reign in our hearts. Are you facing a difficult life situation right now? Is God speaking to you? What would you choose? Would you choose to trust God by letting Christ reign in your heart so that your lives would be changed? Or would you choose to ignore God and let yourselves reign in your hearts? Let’s pray.

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