Scripture
Matthew 2:13-15a, 19-23
Date
June 17, 2018
Speaker
Pastor Witt

 

 

Greeting: May the Lord our God be with us as He was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us.  May He turn our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways.   Amen.

 

Text: 13) When the Magi had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.  “Get up,” he said, “take the Child and His mother and escape to Egypt.   Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the Child to kill Him.”  14) So he got up, took the Child and His mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15) where he stayed until the death of Herod.  .  .  .  19) After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20) and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mothers and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the Child’s life are dead.”  21) So he got up, took the Child and His mother and went to the land of Israel.  22) But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.   Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23) and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth.

 

Introduction: Matthew’s account of the Flight into Egypt is something you would expect to be hearing in the Christmas or early Epiphany season in late December or early January.   But here we are, using it as a special text in the Pentecost season in the month of June.   You might be wondering why?  Well, besides being an important part of the record of the early life of our Savior, it also offers us an excellent example of a person worth emulating,  On this Father’s Day, it points out Joseph, the  husband of Mary and the guardian father of Jesus, as God’s noble family man.   Although Joseph lived and served a long time ago, his example is an outstanding one that provides some invaluable lessons as we live in and serve our families today.   As we study Joseph, we will note that he had two great concerns in life.   One was his relationship with His God.   The other was the welfare of his family.  Let’s listen carefully so we can emulate effectively the example of Joseph, God’s Family Man.

 

 

1. Be Attuned To Your Lord And His Will

 

Matthew is the inspired biblical writer who makes a prominent mention of Joseph in the early chapters of his Gospel.  In the first chapter of the Gospel, Matthew introduces us to Joseph, as the righteous believing man who is engaged to Mary.  When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant and knew that he was not the father, he was deeply troubled. He loved Mary, but it appeared that she had been unfaithful.  He wrestled in his mind and conscience about what he should do.   He wanted to do the right thing in obedience to God and His principles and to Mary and her situation.  He was contemplating a quiet divorce that would officially end the relationship, but would not bring a lot of public embarrassment to Mary.

 

Matthew goes on to tell us that God sent an angel messenger in a dream to help Joseph understand the truth of what was happening.   The angel told Joseph that Mary’s Child was the Messiah and was being born because of a miracle that God was working in her.   She had not been unfaithful or unloving toward Joseph.   Joseph had no need to divorce Mary.   In fact, God wanted Joseph to be the legal and guardian father for Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, who would be the Savior of the world.   Joseph quickly realized the great honor and privilege that God had given to both Mary and to him.  He gladly accepted the will His gracious God had given Him.  He took Mary to be his wife and would serve as the Christ Child’s guardian father.  So Joseph became God’s very special Family Man.

 

Several weeks or months after Jesus’ birth, the Wise Men or Magi came to Bethlehem to visit and worship the infant Savior.  After they returned home without telling the wicked King Herod where Jesus could be found, Matthew tells us more about God’s Family Man in the words of our text, the story of the Flight of the  Joseph, Mary and Jesus into Egypt to avoid the murdering soldiers of King Herod as they slaughtered the babies of Bethlehem.  Matthew shows us that Joseph is a man who is attuned to His Lord and to the Lord’s will.

 

One of God’s angels is sent to give Joseph a message from God in a dream.   It is an urgent and important message of warning.   Herod is going to try to kill Jesus so Joseph must take Mary and the Christ Child to safety.   He must take them to the country of Egypt and live there until the danger is past.   Here we see again that Joseph is a man who is close to God.  He believes in and respects God.  So God sends him someone to tell him His Word.  Joseph listens to God’s Word.   He listens carefully.  He follows God’s will faithfully.   That very night he woke up and headed for Egypt as God’s messenger had told him.  Joseph stayed with his family in Egypt until God told him it was time to leave.   Although God asked Joseph to do things that he had not ever envisioned doing with his life, we notice that Joseph did not balk at the command.   He did not argue with God or complain about the assignment.  Joseph was obedient to God and responsive to His will.

 

What are some things we can learn from God’s Family Man about our relationship with God.   From Joseph we can learn the great lesson of being attuned or in harmony with our Lord and His will.   Like Joseph, we can realize the two great priorities of our lives.   The first is God and the second is our family.   God is our Savior and Lord.   He graciously gives us His Word so we can have spiritual life.  To know and to follow His Word and will is the great, proper response we are to give Him.    In His wisdom, God has made us a family man, woman or child.   He has placed us in a family and given us an important role in it.   God has given us the place we have in life and directs the path He wants us to take.  From Joseph we can learn to accept that place and walk that path in loving obedience to God and in loving service to our family without anger, resentment, argument or complaint.  May God help us be more like His family man, a Christian who is in harmonious agreement with the Lord and His will.

 

 

2. Be Attentive To Your Family And Their Needs

 

As God’s family man, Joseph was also most attentive to the members of his family and their needs.  When God’s angel had explained to Joseph that Mary’s pregnancy was God’s work and His way of providing a Savior for the world, Joseph believed.  Then he embraced Mary’s need for a husband and the Christ-Child’s need for a guardian father.   He realized that others would not understand and that people, assuming he was the natural father, would talk about the scandalous timing of the birth.   He was willing to bear any public embarrassment that might come to him in order to care for the family God gave Him.   Caring for Jesus was not something that he had planned on when he got engaged to Mary.  But this was his family,  so he nobly submerged his personal interests and preferences.    He was willing to be inconvenienced and make major adjustments to his life.   He did all that he could to protect and provide for his family.

 

We see this dedication in the story of the Flight into Egypt.  The angel came to Joseph while he slept and gave him the warning message.   Joseph woke up and right away, in the middle of the night, he roused his young, threatened family and started to take them to safety in Egypt.   He did not stall or delay.   He didn’t waste time or energy.   He saw his mission and he set out immediately and decisively to make sure it would be done.   He led the family to Egypt and settled them there.   He found work, set up a household and provided a stable, positive environment for Mary and the baby in this foreign country. 

 

We are not sure just how long the family had to stay in Egypt.   God saw to it that King Herod became ill and died a painful, agonizing death perhaps within a year of the time he tried to kill Jesus.  Five days before his own death, the cruel Herod had his equally wicked son and heir apparent, Antipater, put to death.   After this time, God sent an angel to Joseph again in a dream to inform him that the people who wanted to kill Jesus were dead and that it was time for them to move back to Israel.  Again, Joseph obeyed.   When Joseph learned that the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, had appointed Herod’s cruel and tyrannical son, Archelaus, to rule over Judea, Joseph feared for his family’s safety to move to the southern part of Israel.  Again, waiting on God’s direction, Joseph settled the family in the north, in Galilee, in the quiet, unassuming town of Nazareth, where he and Mary had lived before.   There he worked to provide a solid, stable home in which the Son of God would be able to grow securely and confidently in the grace of God through childhood, adolescent and young adult years until it was time for Jesus to begin His public ministry. 

 

From this account, we see that Joseph is a devoted family man, who is aware of the needs of his family members and is concerned for their welfare.  He is responsive to provide for their needs, cautious in times of danger, decisive when it’s a time for action.  He is protective, patient, selfless, courageous and helpful.   He puts his family ahead of himself.   We can learn these things from Joseph as we think about our family and our responsibilities toward our family members.   

 

In Joseph, we don’t see the selfishness that is all too common in our culture today.   We don’t see a man who lives for his own pleasure.    He is not caught up in drinking or drugs, gambling or partying, video games or the internet, to the neglect and detriment of his family.   We don’t see a man who disregards or underemphasizes the moral and spiritual tone and training for his family.  We don’t see a man who is detached and uninterested in his family.  We don’t see a man who is overbearing and oppressive in the way he deals with his wife and children.   We don’t see someone who spoils his family by overindulging them in material things.

 

On this Father’s Day when we think about our family life, may God help us be more like His family man, Joseph and be people who are attentive to our family and their needs.  Since we know Joseph’s God and know Jesus as our Savior also, we look to God to give us both the grace and the strength to do this.  May our gracious God work in our hearts the desire to be God’s family people – attuned to our Lord and attentive to our families for His glory and our families good.   Amen.