Reflective Bible Study.
Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com...Flashback Episode: Year in Matthew – Episode 1: Near the beginning of Matthew’s gospel, we discover several powerful insights into the character of Joseph, who was Jesus’ earthly father, and a dream that changed his life forever. Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here. Read the transcript: While it might seem strange starting out the new year looking at a passage from the Christmas story, this happens to be where Matthew begins. Well actually, before looking at Jesus’ birth story, Matthew takes a look at Jesus’ genealogy and traces it back to Abraham. While planning for this year, I quickly realized that Matthew has too many events in it than we are able to cover in our year. Because of this, I thought we could move through this gospel looking at some of the highlight events, and focusing in on some of the events that only Matthew includes. This then leads us to focus a couple episodes here at the beginning of our year in this gospel on Jesus’ birth, because while Luke also focuses on this event, both gospels share different details. Matthew sets the stage by including the tension that was present when it was discovered that Mary was pregnant. Our passage is found in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 1, and we will read it from the New American Standard Bible. Starting in verse 18, Matthew tells us that: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for 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 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. While reading this, I am amazed at Joseph. This passage gives us a glimpse of Joseph’s character, and it is one of only a few passages that focus on Jesus’ earthly dad. In this passage, Matthew describes Joseph as a “righteous man”, but the subtle implication is also that he did not believe Mary when she insisted that her pregnancy was of divine origin. Joseph decides to send Mary away secretly because he does not want to disgrace her in a public way. This choice shows us a piece of Joseph’s character. While Joseph had every right and opportunity to publicly shame Mary for her pregnancy before his dream, he resolved to keep the issue as a private matter in order to help Mary keep her reputation more intact. However, after resolving on a plan of action, Joseph has a dream that changes his plans. The timing of this dream is interesting in my mind. I wonder if Joseph had been deliberating on a plan of action for several days or weeks before making up his mind, or if this was something Joseph had decided on the same day he learned about the pregnancy. Regardless of the timing details that are not included in this passage, it is fascinating that the angel appeared in the dream only after Joseph had made a decision. I wonder if this shows us a little piece of how God acts. Sometimes, God will wait for us to make a decision before He steps in to help us shift our decision onto His path for us. If this is the case, then it does us no good to wait and stall making a decision because we want God’s input, because God is waiting for us to make the decision for ourselves before stepping in if needed to help us shift our choices onto His paths. After Joseph had the dream, he changed the course of His life to match the message he was given. Instead of sending Mary away quietly, Joseph moves through the marriage proceeding, and it’s possible he accelerated the plan simply to help this situation be less awkward for his new wife. It is possible that Joseph wanted this pregnancy to be less obvious that it was not his, even though he kept her a virgin as Matthew described. This dream completely changed the course of Joseph’s life. Joseph took this dream to heart and he followed through with what the angel told him. In this dream, we have an angel validating Mary’s unbelievable story, and the angel also, interestingly enough, calls Joseph a “son of David”. I’m curious if Joseph knew his genealogy enough to know that he was a descendant of David. I wonder if this is one reason why Matthew opens his gospel by not only connecting Joseph to David, but also to Abraham as well. Either way, this greeting is a powerful one to pay attention to because the Messiah that God promised was to be one of David’s descendants, and if I’m not mistaken, one of Abraham’s descendants as well. The angel validates Mary’s testimony about the pregnancy, and the angel also gives Joseph the name that they should give the Baby. When we look at the story of Zechariah and the birth of John the Baptist in Luke’s gospel, we discover that the father was the one to officially name the child. It is only after Zechariah officially writes down John’s name that he is able to speak again. Bringing this information over to Joseph and Mary’s story in Matthew, it is as though through this angel, God the Father is telling Joseph, the earthly dad, what to name His Son. This is a powerful exchange between these two father roles and we can easily miss this detail if we are not paying attention. Joseph’s role is a significant role in Jesus’ story. Joseph’s role is similar to an adoptive step-father, since Jesus is not directly his, but Joseph is also responsible for raising Jesus. While we don’t know much about Joseph’s character, we do know that Joseph succeeded at his role of being Jesus’ dad because of the man Jesus grew up to be. As we come to the end of this first passage in our year in Matthew’s gospel, here are the challenges I will leave you with: As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to let Him lead and guide you along the path He wants you to take. While sometimes God will show us a decision we should make before we have made it, don’t wait to make decisions, because God might be waiting for us to make the decision before stepping in if necessary. We should intentionally move through life and be open, willing, and expecting God to step in and correct our course when necessary. Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to grow personally closer to God each and every day. While other people can give you things to think about, only through personal study, personal prayer, and time can someone grow a personal relationship with Jesus. Continue growing your personal relationship with Jesus, starting today! And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or wander away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him! Listen to this episode and/or subscribe on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com...Read this article on the web on it's official page: Flashback Episode — Named by the Father: Matthew 1:18-25