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Joseph – The Earthly Father of the Heavenly Son

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“Joseph – The Earthly Father of the Heavenly Son”

Series: The Characters of Christmas [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

December 5, 2021

Introductory Comments:

Imagine for a moment that you are engaged to be married. You’ve been waiting for a long time to get married and to start your own family. Imagine that marriage is a huge part of your society and it’s one of the ways that you feel you can fulfill your purpose as a follower of God. Then, imagine that the person you’re engaged to says that they are having a child and the child is not yours. How do you think that will affect things going forward?

Well, this is exactly what Joseph faced when he was betrothed to Mary and found out that she was pregnant with a baby who was not his baby. This baby would be named, “Jesus.”

Today, we’re continuing our series called “The Characters of Christmas.” Today’s message is “Joseph – The Earthly Father of the Heavenly Son.” [on screen] We’re going to learn about the life of Joseph, how God used him, and what we can learn from the story of Joseph. 

Before we go any further, let’s pray together and ask God to speak to us. 


As with Mary, today we’re going to look at who Joseph was, how the Lord used him, and what we can learn from his life. 

First, let’s look at . . .

I. Joseph’s Life [on screen]

Joseph was a Jewish man who was the son of a man named Heli. 

Luke 3:23 says, “As he began his ministry, Jesus was about thirty years old and was thought to be the son of Joseph, son of Heli.” [on screen]

We know that Joseph was a carpenter by trade. Matthew 13:55 says, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother called Mary, and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?” [on screen]

Also, Matthew 1:19 tells us that Joseph was a righteous man. 

Now, let me just say, if people don’t know a lot about you, it’s good when one of the things they know about you is that you are righteous. Joseph was righteous. 

What makes Joseph most famous, of course, is that he was engaged, or betrothed, to Mary. We’ll read about that in a moment. 

Matthew 2:22-23 tells us that Joseph and his family settled in Nazareth. 

Nazareth was not really a cosmopolitan location. In fact, remember that Nathanael the apostle, when he first heard about Jesus said in John 1:46, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” [on screen]

How do you like that? Nazareth wasn’t exactly the best town around. 

Joseph was not famous, not wealthy, and not spectacular, but he would be used by God. 

As we read about the adult years of Jesus, we don’t hear any mention of Joseph, which implies that Joseph may not have lived into Jesus’ adult years. 

In fact, the last time we hear about Joseph being involved in the life of Jesus is when Jesus went missing in the temple when he was twelve years old. You can read about this in Luke 2:48 if you would like to do so. 

So, that’s most of what we know from the life of Joseph. We don’t know a lot but we do know those things. 

Now, let’s discuss what we know of . . .

II. Joseph’s Legacy [on screen]

Most of what we know about Joseph is found in the book of Matthew. So, let’s look at Matthew chapters 1 and 2. Follow along as I read.

Let’s start in Matthew 1:18-25 – 18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband, Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name him Immanuel,

which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus.

Now, let’s look at Matthew 2:13-15 – 13 After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called my Son.

Finally, let’s look at Matthew 2:19-23 – 19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, because those who intended to kill the child are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother, and entered the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, he withdrew to the region of Galilee. 23 Then he went and settled in a town called Nazareth to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

So, that’s Joseph’s part in the Christmas story. God used an ordinary, righteous man to receive and care for Jesus the Messiah. 

Also, did you notice how much God communicated to Joseph through dreams? God didn’t speak to Mary in a dream, but he chose to speak to Joseph through dreams. 

Matthew 1:20 says, “But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream . . .” [on screen]

Matthew 2:13 says, “After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream . . .” [on screen]

Matthew 2:19 says, “After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.” [on screen]

There was something special about the way God communicated to Joseph. By the way, I think it’s helpful for us to notice that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to God working through people. God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, however He wants! He chose to communicate to Joseph through dreams. 

Consider this about Joseph’s legacy as well: one of the main goals of a Jewish man is to have a firstborn son in order to carry on his family line. 

However, Jesus did not represent Joseph’s line. Even if he had, Jesus died without having any children of His own. So, Jesus did not fulfill that goal for Joseph. 

Yet, Joseph willingly sacrificed the chance for his wife’s first son to be his son, who would carry on the family name. 

However, Jesus was a Son who would carry on a line. He would not merely represent the family of Joseph, He would represent all the families of the earth and He would represent God. He would bring God and humanity together in reconciliation. All of this was made possible, in part, because of the faithfulness of Joseph. 

Of course, as we learned last week, Mary and Joseph would go on to have at least four other sons to carry on the family name, but Joseph didn’t know that at the time of Jesus’ birth. Yet, he was faithful. 

We also find out that Joseph was from the line of David; he was a son of David.

Luke 2:4 says, “Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David.” [on screen]

In fact, notice what the angel calls Joseph in Matthew 1:20. The angel says, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” [on screen]

Joseph was a son of David. However, the son born to Mary, Joseph’s betrothed, would be the true Son of David.

Here’s another part of Joseph’s legacy: Joseph was faithful to Mary and to the Lord. 

Matthew 1:19 says that Joseph didn’t want to disgrace Mary publicly, even though that would not have been unusual in those days. In fact, we know from the Bible, that women who committed adultery could actually be stoned to death; yet Joseph didn’t want this disgrace to come to Mary, even though he thought that she had disgraced him. Joseph was abundantly faithful to Mary. 

Further, this was not something that Joseph sought out. Yet, the Lord called him to this task. As God used other great men in the Bible to lead and guide His people, God used Joseph to lead and protect Mary and Jesus. This was the task to which God called Joseph, and Joseph was faithful. 

So, we learn the legacy of Joseph: faithfulness. 

Finally, let’s learn . . .

III. Joseph’s Lesson
[on screen]

What lessons can Joseph teach us?

Lesson #1 – When God spoke, Joseph acted.[on screen]

Once he knew what God was telling him to do, Joseph did it. 

Lesson #2 – Joseph was faithful despite the consequences. [on screen]

Joseph could have faced harm from Herod because he was protecting Jesus. Still, Joseph was faithful. 

Joseph could have faced shame in his community for being with a woman who was pregnant outside of marriage. Still, Joseph was faithful. 

Joseph could have faced the reality of not having his family name carried on because Mary’s son was not his. Still, Joseph was faithful. 

No matter the consequences, Joseph was a person of faithfulness. May we also be faithful. 

Lesson #3 – Joseph had a significant part to play in the work of God and so do you. [on screen]

Joseph was a husband to Mary, a protector of Mary and Jesus, a teacher to Jesus, and more.

Listen: God is calling you to serve Him in some way. Some ways are common to us all and some ways are specific to you. However, God is calling you to play a part in His work. Will you answer the call?

Let’s sum it up with this bottom line:

Bottom Line: May we be faithful as Joseph was faithful. [on screen]


When God speaks, may we faithfully act. 

May we be faithful despite the consequences. 

May we play our part in what God is doing. 

May we be faithful. 

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Rate your faithfulness. [on screen]

How are you doing when it comes to being faithful to the Lord?

As with Mary, are you willing? As with Joseph, are you faithful?

2. Thank God for all that He accomplished through Joseph. [on screen]

Let us be grateful for how God used this humble, faithful, righteous man.

Spend some this week thanking God for Joseph. 


If you’ve been changed by Jesus, live a life of faithfulness to Him and His ways. 

If you’ve not been changed by Jesus, God has faithfullyshown His love to you through Jesus. Will you be changed by Him?

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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