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The forgotten figure of Christmas

Matthew 1:24 “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, (25) And did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.”

In a “Peanuts” Christmas comic strip, Lucy asks Linus, “Now, are you sure you know your piece for the Christmas program?”

Linus replies, “I know it backwards and forwards and sideways and upside down! I could say it in my sleep!”

As Lucy looks at herself in the mirror, she says, “Yeah well, I remember last year. You almost goofed the whole program!”

Linus looks offended and yells back at her, “Well this is this year and this year I won’t forget!”

With that retort, Linus begins to quote his lines from Luke chapter two. When he gets finished, Lucy smiles and says to him, “Say, that’s pretty good,” and Linus has a big smile as he replies, “I told you I knew it. I have a memory like an elephant!”

As Linus leaves, he says, “Well, I’m going on ahead to the church, I’ll see you there…”

As Linus leaves for the church, he is quoting the Scripture verses to himself.

The last frame shows him back at home and Lucy says to him, “What in the world? I thought you just left?”

Linus replies, “I did, but I came back. I forgot where the church is!”

More often than not, when people talk about Christmas, they do not mention Joseph. Our thoughts turn to Mary and the baby Jesus. So often we forget one of the main characters of Christmas—Joseph.

When Joseph found out that his betrothed wife, Mary, was pregnant with a child he knew was not his, he faced a quandary.

He did not want to make a public spectacle of her, but he also did not want to marry someone he believed had been unfaithful to him.

While he pondered this dilemma, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that Mary had not been unfaithful to him, but instead had been faithful to the call of God.

The angel told Joseph that the child conceived in her womb was implanted in her womb by the Holy Spirit. Verses 24-25 reveal what Joseph did after he woke from sleep, after hearing what the angel had shared with him.

Let me share two thoughts from these two verses.

Number one, note the courage of Joseph. He had the courage to believe what the angel had told him. The angel had shared with him something that was beyond human belief—and yet Joseph believed it. The angel had shared with Joseph something that had never happened before—a virgin with child. The angel had shared with Joseph something that was humanly impossible—yet Joseph believed it. That took great courage as well as great faith.

News commentator Larry King once was asked the question if he could ask God anything what would he ask. He replied, “Is the virgin birth true?”

Yes, my dear friend, the virgin birth is true.

Another thing about the courage of Joseph was that he had the courage to obey what the angel had told him to do—verse 20—“do not be afraid to take Mary for your wife.” He was not afraid to take Mary for his wife—even though he knew others would not believe she was a virgin and they might cast aspersions on her character. He was not afraid to obey the Lord’s command.

Number two, note the commitment of Joseph. Verse 25 informs us that Joseph did not know Mary in sexual intimacy until after she brought forth her firstborn Son. He was committed to what God wanted him to do. He was committed to being faithful to God’s call on his life to be the foster father of Jesus. He was willing to take second place to himself and put Jesus in first place in his life. Not only that, but he was committed to obey in naming Mary’s Son. He called His name Jesus—which means “Jehovah is salvation.”

The angel had announced to Joseph that Mary’s Son would save His people from their sins and Joseph cooperated by naming Him Jesus.

This Christmas, take a few moments and think about these two qualities of Joseph—courage and commitment. Both of these characteristics are all worth emulating in your own personal life.

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