For this special season, I thought it would be nice to share with you the Christmas story, by looking at it through the eyes of Joseph.
As you know, it was the angel Gabriel who first appeared to Mary, who was living in Nazareth at the time, and gave her this wonderful announcement:
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS.” Luke !:30-31 NKJV.
After the angel appeared to Mary, you would think that she would have immediately run and told Joseph the wonderful news. No, she didn’t. One thing we learn about Mary is that she was a keeper of secrets – she kept the whole thing to herself! Instead, she went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, whom the angel had told her was in the sixth month of her pregnancy. It wasn’t until three months later that she returned to Joseph and told him that she was with child. We have no indication that she told him anything else. You can imagine what a dilemma this caused Joseph with his family and his community!
Now there is no doubt that God had prepared Joseph all of his life for this very moment. He was a righteous man of God and a true saint. One thing the Lord showed me years ago was that Joseph was a dreamer of dreams. In fact, we have a record of four dreams that he received from the Lord. The Apostle Matthew wrote:
“And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bear a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.’ ” Matthew 1:19-21 NASV.
Clearly this revelation was all news to Joseph. He seemed to have known nothing of Mary’s visitation from the angel Gabriel. Notice also his reaction to the angel: he was not afraid or troubled by the angel’s message like Mary had been. In fact, he acted like this was a normal occurrence to him. I personally believe that this wasn’t the first time an angel had appeared to him. Notice again that he didn’t say anything back to the angel, but immediately responded in obedience. This is something we can learn from Joseph – instant obedience!
Now Joseph seems to have been a quiet man. Consider the fact that we do not have record of a single word he said. Joseph quietly obeyed God. Every time the angel spoke to him, he simply believed what he was told and obeyed God. He was truly a man of faith!
Now it may surprise some people to know that it wasn’t until about two years after the birth of Jesus that the wise men came from the East to look for the new-born King. The Apostle Matthew wrote:
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:1-2 NKJV.
Now there has been a lot of speculation about who these wise men were. Not only had they seen the star in the East, but this star had given them revelation of who this King was – He was someone to be worshiped! Were these wise men ex-patriot Jews from Babylon, who were looking for their Messiah? We have no way of knowing. It has always remained a great mystery.
What was King Herod’s reaction to the wise men’s question? The Apostle Matthew wrote:
“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ (the Messiah) was to be born.
“So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” ‘ “
Now this Scripture was a quote taken from the Book of the prophet Micah, who also wrote about this Ruler:
“Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2 NKJV.
Clearly this Scripture revealed the divine nature of this Child who was to be born in Bethlehem – He was from everlasting!
“Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
Matthew 2:7-8 NKJV.
Now let me ask you: What was this star that they were following? Some have speculated that this was a super nova that had lit up the sky, but this star was no ordinary celestial light – it moved! Notice the words of the Apostle Matthew, when he wrote:
“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.” Matthew 2:9 NKJV.
Can you see why I said that this was no ordinary star? Notice that this star led them all the way from the East and finally stood right over the house where the young Child was. I personally believe it was an angel sent from God. In fact, you may recall that angels were often called “stars” in the Scriptures (for example, see Revelation 1:20).
“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11 NKJV.
We do not know how many wise men there were; we only assume from the three gifts that there were three of them.
Now I am sure you know the rest of the story. The wise men were warned by God in a dream, and they returned to their country by another route. Joseph was also warned by an angel in a dream, and he took Mary and the Child and escaped to Egypt.
Now when King Herod knew that he had been deceived by the wise men, he ordered all the male children to be killed from two years old and younger, “according to the time he had determined from the wise men.” (see Matthew 2:16). This is how Bible scholars determined how old Jesus must have been when the wise men came to worship Him. It seems Jesus could have been as old as two years old at this time.
Again and again the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream, often through an angel. Each time Joseph instantly obeyed God. You may have wondered why God had the wise men give such expensive gifts to Jesus. Have you ever considered that this is what Joseph needed to pay for his trip to Egypt? Clearly the devil was out to destroy the life of Jesus to keep Him from fulfilling His destiny on the earth. It was the quiet obedience of Joseph that kept Him alive, and allowed Him to fulfill His destiny to become the Savior of the world. After all, His name, Jesus, means, “Jehovah Saves.”
Merry Christmas, dear saint!