International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending December 20, 2009
For Week Ending December 20, 2009
Purpose: To recognize Joseph as a model of a faithful husband and father
Scripture Text: Matthew 18-25 (NRSV)
(18) Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. (19)Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. (20)But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (21)She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ (22)All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
(23)‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’(24)When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, (25)but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
My Thoughts by Burgess WalterThis account indicates the unique parentage of the child Jesus. Mary was his mother. The Holy Ghost was his Father. He was truly man. He was truly God. Yet he was not merely man and he was not only God. He was both God and man, the God-man. God the Creator thus became a member of the human race, that he might lead mankind into his eternal kingdom. Obviously, this redemptive undertaking involves mystery, yet not so much mystery as to prevent reasonable faith.
I am always amazed by modern day theologians that claim Matthew copied his book from Mark. They claim ninety percent of Matthew appears in the Gospel of Mark. My question would be why a person that was present during almost all of Jesus ministry would copy someone that was not present. I believe Matthew was the disciple recorded as a follower and one of the twelve. He was in his own words a “publican,” a collector of Roman taxes, often an extortionist, and generally despised. Luke tells us that Matthew made a Great Feast for Jesus and forsook all to follow Jesus. Matthew's humbleness is refreshing and he is only interested in the rest of us knowing Jesus, as he knew Jesus.
Tradition tells us that Matthew preached in Palestine for several years, and then traveled to foreign countries; that he wrote his original book in Hebrew, and some years later, issued a more complete edition in Greek. One of the advantages of being in the tax collecting business was that it helped Matthew to pay attention to detail.
As our text unfolds, it should be noted that Mary spent the first three months of her pregnancy with her cousin Elizabeth, (Luke 1:36) it is during this time, prior to her return to Nazareth that Joseph has his dream. We know very little about Joseph, except that he was a descendent of David and righteous man. According to Matthew 13:55, 56 he and Mary had seven children, and he lived as a carpenter in the city of Nazareth.
The genealogies recorded by Matthew and Luke differ somewhat, Matthew goes back to Abraham, Luke goes back to Adam. One is descending, “begat”; the other is ascending,“was son of'”. The commonly held view is that Matthew gives Joseph's line, showing Jesus to be the legal heir to the promises given to both Abraham and David. While the gospel of Luke gives Mary's line showing Jesus as a blood descendant, “Son of David” according to Romans 1:3. These historical blood lines are not found anywhere else in our history, 4,000 years are traced; just that fact should give us a chill. It is unique in all of our history that this child's genealogy is recorded in this way.
Joseph certainly gives us an example of what a faithful husband and father should look like, unlike some of our modern day heroes. Joseph was prepared to spare Mary any embarrassment. Joseph was not only faithful to Mary, but he was a good earthly father to Jesus. We know he saved Jesus' life by moving the family to Egypt. When Jesus was twelve we know he took Jesus to Jerusalem to worship in the temple. By the time Jesus started his ministry Joseph had apparently died and we hear nothing about him after that.
What about Joseph do you find most impressive? What do you think Jesus learned from Joseph? Is there anything in this story you find difficult to believe?
Here is a Christmas Song to touch your heart and maybe bring a tear to you eye. Double click on the link: Mary Did you Know?