Obedient Faithfulness Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas Day Matthew 1:18-25
Have you ever committed to something only to find out that it was more than you bargained for? That you were “in-over-your-head” or “underwater” from the start? The kind of thing that gives you buyer’s remorse?
Like: maybe you’ve purchased a used car that you later realized was a little more “used” than you anticipated. You thought it was in pretty good condition only to find out a few months later it needed a new transmission and it would cost a ton to fix?
Have you ever taken a job with a very clear “scope of work” or a specific job description... only to be given more and more tasks and responsibilities - outside your area of experience - with no raise, no promotion... NO reduction at all of your other responsibilities?
Sometimes when we experience such things... we think... or say... “I didn’t sign up for this!”
It makes me wonder if that’s how Joseph felt when he was informed that his soon-to-be-wife, Mary, was pregnant? Can you imagine what Joseph must have been thinking when Mary began making outlandish, impossible to believe, and slightly insane claims about an angel, immaculate conception, and the birth of the Messiah?
Of course, the Bible says that Mary “was found to be pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit” but that must have been a hard pill for Joseph to swallow.
Chances are that he didn’t believe her. And the scripture even eludes to Joseph’s disbelief.
And, honestly, who would believe such a story if it were to happen today? It’s not hard to imagine Joseph having some “fiancee remorse.”
What do you suppose you would have done? How would you have responded, had you been in Joseph’s shoes?
Of course, for most of us, when we encounter a situation where we get more than we bargained for, or when things don’t go the way we want or expect... we’ll complain to customer service, demand to speak to a manager, and make threats of cancelling our account until we get what we want. Or we’ll walk away from our agreement completely. And we make sure all our friends and family (on social media) and strangers in the middle of WalMart know just how dissatisfied we are...
In Joseph’s particular situation, most people would have publicly disgraced Mary. Some may have even brought down the full extent of the law and had Mary stoned to death. But Joseph wasn’t most people.
While Joseph may not be mentioned much in the Gospels, and we don’t have a ton of information about his life, there’s one very important thing that we DO know: Joseph was a good man (Matthew 1:19, PHILLIPS).
There aren’t many figures in the Bible described as “a good man.” This puts Joseph in some truly elite biblical company among men like Noah, Daniel, and Job. In Matthew 1:19, we’re told, “Joseph . . . was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.”
No shame, no death; he opted for a quiet, noble, good, compassionate resolution. Honorably ending his engagement to Mary.
But then... an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Mary as his wife, because the child she was carrying was in fact the Savior.
OF course, again, Joseph could have said to himself, “I didn’t sign up for this. Raising the Savior? Good grief! I’m just a carpenter. I’m not equipped for this! I’m not prepared. It’s more than I bargained for. Count me out.”
But he didn’t do ANY of that. Instead, when he woke up, he did everything the angel commanded.
Joseph was faced with a difficult situation. He was asked to marry a woman who was pregnant before their wedding and endure the criticism, gossip, and shame that surely followed.
You don’t read of a big celebratory wedding for Mary and Joseph. It’s very likely they married against the wishes of both families. But Joseph’s courage... his compassion... his endurance showed his faithfulness and obedience to the Will of God... and it was proven by his willingness to raise Jesus as his own. He was obedient in the face of a daunting situation.
In our lives, we may face difficult situations that may cause us to say, “I didn’t sign up for this.” We may fall into various trials, we may be called to carry out an impossible vision, or to step out of our comfort zone.
Here’s the thing: contrary to popular belief... God often gives us more than we bargained for. He often puts us in situations we can’t possibly handle on our own. He does this so we can be faithful, obedient, and rely fully on His strength, wisdom, and direction to bring us through it.
Like Joseph, let’s commit to obedience and faithfulness, no matter the cost. And let’s remember what we signed up for—to receive God’s grace by surrendering our lives to Him and following His Son.
And let’s hold fast to the promise that His grace is sufficient for us; that His power is made perfect in our weakness . . . especially in the moments where we get more than we bargained for and more than we can handle.