Joseph & Mary – Two world famous, but ordinary people who changed history.
Sermon notes for EMC for Sunday, December 10, 2017 by Pastor Bill Hossler. Small group questions at the end of the BLOG post.
Joseph and Mary were at opposite ends of the age bracket than were Zachariah and Elizabeth, who were up in years. Joseph and Mary were just starting out. Zachariah’s response to the Angel was, “I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
Zachariah had established himself as a respected Priest and Elizabeth was a revered, but childless woman – the wife of Zachariah. Z & E were rather well known, but Joseph & Mary lived in obscurity.
The birth of Z & E’s baby was the event of the year while Joseph & Mary’s situation made the gossip column.
While both parents experienced the miraculous birth of their child, Z & E had a natural born baby & Joseph & Mary a Spirit of God born child.
Elizabeth goes down in history as the very first human being ever to recognize Jesus as Lord, while he’s still in Mary’s womb. She beats the shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and even Mary herself to the punch. When Mary visits, Elizabeth feels baby Johnny “leap for joy” (1:44) in her womb. In awe she simply asks, “And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” (1:43).
Not a lot is know about either Joseph or Mary and Joseph is only heard of one other time when Jesus is 12 and is not with their caravan after a visit to Jerusalem. But we know from Luke 2:41-52, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”
Throughout Jesus’s adult ministry, and explicitly at the time of Jesus’s crucifixion, however, we see only His mother. Joseph doesn’t appear in this scene.
- Joseph was a righteous and kind person – Matt 1:19 “did not want to expose her to public disgrace , he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
2. He was open to spiritual things – He paid attention to a dream. Matt 1:20-21. We implied this in our other points, but Joseph was enough acquainted with God and his teaching and he was open to God doing something in his life. He was not expecting this angelic visitation, but neither did he discard it as foolishness.
What does it mean to be open to spiritual things?
I COR 2:10 “…but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”
Vs 11 “For who among men knows the thought of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
Vs 14 “the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that one front the Spirit of God.”
I suggest this is something requiring some practice and experimentation to distinguish God’s voice from your voice. One clear check is “Does what I am sensing violate the written Word of God.” God will not violate what he has previously written in his Word. God will not tell you to steal to pay your bills and at the same time tell you in Scripture not to steal.
3. Joseph was willing to live according to God’s law and put Mary away even though he loved her very much. vs. 19 “he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” vs 20 “After he considered this…” Wow, this must have been hard for Joseph. Yes, he thought he had been violated, but he loved Mary.
We never get ahead by violating the laws of God. Joseph was a righteous man – kept the law – even though it hurt. He knew obedience was better sacrifice. In the end, doing the right thing would keep in in alignment with God. That is part of discipleship. Obedience is part of following God. Keep short accounts is a term identifying the importance in keeping close to God and not letting our life get out of control and lacking obedience.
He obeyed what he understood to be the instructions of the Lord – He obeyed the angel Matt 1:24. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him ad took Mary home as his wife…. And he gave him the name Jesus.” As instructed.
1. She was a chaste (innocent · virtuous – Self-restrained) young woman. Her teenage life was evidently exemplary “You who are highly favored.” She was a virtuous woman. Luke 1:34 “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” There are a lot of young ladies who could never qualify for this role since they have been promiscuous prior to marriage.
2. She had a humble spirit. Vs 29 “Greatly troubled at her words.” Me, highly favored? Who am I? Luke 1:28 Cornelius in Acts 10
3. She was a woman of faith. – vs Lk 1:38 “OK, I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
Small Group Questions for Pastor Bill’s sermon delivered on December 10, 2017
1. Do you have any thoughts on why not more is not known about Jesus’ father Joseph? Other than their linage, not a lot is known about either Joseph or Mary and Joseph is only heard of in the Bible one other time when Jesus is 12 and is not with their caravan after a visit to Jerusalem. Luke 2:41-52 “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” Throughout Jesus’s adult ministry, and explicitly at the time of Jesus’s crucifixion, however, we see only His mother. Joseph doesn’t appear on this scene.
2. In what other manner could Joseph have decided to end the relationship with Mary? What do you think his reaction was when he found out Mary was expecting a child? How did his character influence his behavior? Matt 1:19 He “did not want to expose her to public disgrace , he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
3. Joseph was open to spiritual things and paid attention to a dream. Read Matt 1:20-21. Discuss being open to “listening spiritually” as opposed to just listening with our ears and through what we read. Review 1 Cor 1:10-14. How do you discern what is the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life? This week spend a few minutes each day listening to what the Spirit is saying to you.
4. Do you agree with the current survey that says that In the 29-39 demographic, 89% will listen to you if you share how Jesus helped you and 61% are open to a biblical worldview? Why do you think they may be “turned off” when you start talking about your church? Have you talked with a young person recently and just listened to what their concerns and views are?
5. Read Mary’s song following her visit with Elizabeth (Luke 1:46-55). What thoughts or phrases stand out to you? Why? Discuss the spiritual understanding and maturity of this young teenage woman?
6. Read Luke 1:26-38 and discuss Mary’s response to the Angelic visit. Discuss Pastor Bill’s phrase – “The truly humble people don’t see themselves as highly exalted.”
How did God view Moses? Numbers 12:2-4. Read Mathew 23:11-12 and discuss how this view is different from the worlds. Compare with James 4:6
7. Even though Mary was a woman of faith do you think she had concerns about how her parents and Joseph would receive the news of her pregnancy? But notice how God was already at work to help the will of God work out While Mary was going through her walk of faith, God was working on Joseph to help him understand what was happening (Matthew 1:20 “But after he considered this (divorcing Mary) and angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” Do you have an experience where you believe Romans 8:28 worked out for you? Describe a situation in your life where something did not appear to be good, but God turned it out for good.
8. Discuss why we don’t worship or venerate Mary as much as some do. Acts 10:25-26; Revelation 19:10