Like Joseph, we must trust and obey
Well, it’s Christmas. Merry Christmas.
I pray that this day will be blessed for you, filled with peace and hope.
The Christmas story in Luke centers on Mary, Jesus’ mother, but Matthew concentrates on Joseph, his father. And Joseph is in a real mess, isn’t he?
He’s learned that the woman he’s engaged to is with child, pregnant, and he hasn’t had relations with her. He’s a just man, a righteous man, a man who follows the law, the Torah. But the law says Mary should be stoned for apparently having relations with another man. But he’s gotten to know her, and apparently by his actions, gotten fond of her. So he doesn’t want that to happen to her, and he’s mulling over his options when he has this dream.
Names were important in that culture, and Joseph was named after Jacob’s favorite son, who was known for his dreams. His dreams got him into trouble with his brothers, when he dreamed about the sheaves of grain, and again about the stars, where the dreams indicated that his brothers would bow before him, and this got them so angry they sold him into slavery. And it was dreams that got Joseph out of trouble when he interpreted the pharaoh’s dreams. So now this Joseph, the father, is named after the dreamer, and he dreams, too.
The angel tells him don’t be afraid to take her as your wife, for the baby has been conceived by the Holy Spirit, and he tells him to call him Jesus.
Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means the Lord saves. The angel says he will save his people, just as his namesake, Joshua, in the Old Testament saved his people by crossing the Jordan and leading them into the promised land. The angel says this Jesus will save his people, by saving them from their sins. Joseph has this dream, and what he does next is crucial for all mankind. He trusts, and he obeys. He does what the angel commanded. He takes Mary as his wife, and the baby is born, and he does call him Jesus. Joseph trust and obeys.
So when you have a crisis, and we all do and will, let Joseph be your example. Listen to God, it may not come to you in a dream like Joseph, but God’s word will be there, in the advice of a friend, in the counsel of a pastor, in the reading of a passage of scripture.
God has an answer. In Joseph’s case the answer was Jesus, and that is and always will be our answer as well, for just as the angel told Joseph, Jesus saves us, Jesus saves us from our sins.
So let’s follow the example of Joseph, the dreamer, the one who listened to God and trusted and obeyed.
REV. DALE BROWN is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian churches. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.