This is a different type of sermon titled “A Story Told.” I am giving the sermon as Joseph.
Good morning, you’ve probably heard about Jesus’ birth from Mary, at least I hope you have. My beloved Mary dictated her thoughts to Luke, the beloved physician and Luke has written them in a scroll. You know what I am talking about, right? Luke wrote a scroll, you might call it a hmm, hmm, what is the word? A book. Luke wrote a book about the Gospel of Jesus. I’ve read how Luke wrote Mary’s account. He did a good job, a real good job. Mary is very detailed. She has quite a memory. It doesn’t appear like she left anything out. Well, almost anything, because of space, and the obvious fact that Mary is not me, there may be a few blanks to fill in. I am Joseph, stepfather to Jesus, Immanuel, in case you didn’t realize.
Occupation: I am a man who works with my hands. I know it has been said that I am a carpenter; to be a carpenter simply means “one who works with their hands.” I actually do all types of jobs. I work with stone, I work in the fields, and many other jobs. Rarely do I work with wood. As Jesus grew up, He learned my trade, or should I say, He learned the many trades that I do. Well, I suppose you want to hear about Jesus’ birth.
Mary and I, we were engaged. Engagement in our day and in our country was a little different than it is today. Please, allow me to explain. You see many times our parents would arrange our marriage long before it actually happened. Our engagement was a very important event. There was an actual Jewish betrothal period. This period would last about a year. During this time, we were not to be married, nor were we to have marital relations. To break off an engagement was a big deal, it meant a divorce.
Okay, so we were engaged, I was so excited the day this betrothal period started. I was, let me think, I was seventeen years old when we were engaged. If my memory serves, Mary was thirteen years old. I couldn’t wait, I tell you, I couldn’t wait to be married to Mary. It was not only about being married. Mary was a great young lady. Mary was smart; she was a very smart young woman. No, she had very little education. But she knew the books of the law and the prophets. She knew what you would call the Old Testament. She grew up listening to her father tell her about the books of the Law. She grew up learning how to keep the law. She knew them and believed them. She was eager to see an anointed prophet come and deliver Israel from the yoke of Rome. Oh, but she didn’t realize that she would be mother to the deliverer. Mary was very resourceful. She grew up learning from her parents how to keep up a house, and how to provide for the needs of survival. Also, Mary was a beautiful young lady. I was eager to be married to her. I was eager to start a family with her.
In my eagerness to be married to her I was preparing a place for us to live. I was preparing a small home for us. I was building some furniture for our home. I was saving some money for some animals to provide milk and other needs.
Imagine my surprise one day when Mary told me she was pregnant. Actually, Mary didn’t have to tell me, I could tell as she walked towards me. Mary had been away for a while. When she returned, she came to see me. As she walked towards me, I was working. I looked up and saw her, beautiful as ever, but pregnant. My heart sank. I thought, “How could she have done this? We are in a betrothal period.” Then I thought, “Maybe it wasn’t her? Maybe someone took advantage of her, she was traveling.” Sooner than those thoughts raced through my head Mary was in front of me. We exchanged hellos and then through tears she told me how an angel visited her and told her that she was favored. She was to have a baby. She was to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She was to have a baby who will be the Son of God. He is to be King, an everlasting King.
I was shocked, but you know, I believed her. Mary was an honest woman. Even though I believed her, I was going to divorce her. Remember how I said that to break an engagement meant an official divorce. This could mean public humiliation for Mary, so I decided to do this quietly. Even though I believed her, others didn’t. I went to work, and I was talking with a friend, David was his name. We were working in the field. David said, “What is going on with Mary, I notice she is pregnant. You are going to divorce her, right?” I said, “Yes, but I am going to do this quietly.” David said, “quietly! Humiliate her! She had an affair in your betrothal period!” I replied, “Well, David, she says that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit, she is to give birth to the Son of God who will be king.” David replied, “Joseph, Joseph, I know that you really like this woman, she has been all you’ve talked about, but pregnant by the Holy Spirit!!! I guess when you’re in love, you’ll believe just about anything!!! Divorce her! She is not pregnant by the Holy Spirit but pregnant by another man.”
I thought about that conversation. But not long. That same night I had a dream. In a dream an angel appeared to me. The angel said to take her as my wife. She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. I am to name Him Jesus which means “The Lord saves.” He will save His people from their sins. I was excited after that dream. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the betrothal is to stay. I had been raised being taught about the prophesies of a future King, a time when God will save us from our sins and save Israel from the other countries. What an honor, the Savior is to be born and I am to be His stepfather and Mary is to be His mother. Mary was telling the truth.
Soon after the dream Mary and I had to leave to my hometown of Bethlehem because of a census. Mary was greatly pregnant and the four day journey was difficult. We made it to the small city of Bethlehem just in time for Jesus’ birth. But there was no room for us to stay at anyone’s house. All of the guest rooms were full. Someone let us stay the night in the cave where they kept their livestock. Jesus was born and laid in a feeding trough. That same night shepherds came and worshipped this baby, our baby, God’s son.
Later on, we were able to get a small house in Bethlehem, then wise men from the east came to worship Jesus. Soon after that, He was about two years old, and I had another vision from God. We were to take Jesus to Egypt. Herod sought His life. We went to Egypt for several years and then came back and raised Him in Nazareth.
It was a hard journey, raising Jesus. But it was worth it. We didn’t know what was in store for us or humanity. Mary didn’t know, I didn’t know. But Jesus saves us from our sins. Amen