161218 Matthew 1:18-25

Last Updated on Monday, 19 December 2016 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Matthew 1:18 – 25
Theme: Do You Have Any Concerns This Christmas?

Last week, Pastor Pagels reminded us that we only had two weeks of shopping days left until Christmas. Well, another week has passed, and Christmas Day is already next Sunday! What are your con¬cerns this morning, knowing that Christmas is getting so close? Are you concerned because you don't have all your presents bought yet or that you won't get everything you put on your list this year? Or, maybe you are concerned about how you will pay for all the things you bought this year. Perhaps you concerned about what you will feed the friends and family who will be joining you this Christmas?

This morning I ask you to re-think the concerns that you have for this Christmas. God's Word before us today, taken from the Gospel lesson for this weekend, leads you and me to consider our answer to the question: DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS THIS CHRIST¬MAS? From this portion of God's Word we will see that we will have two concerns: a concern for other people and a concern for the Word of our God. I invite you to listen again to two verses from the Gospel Lesson we heard earlier. At this time I am reading verses 24 and 25 of Matthew chapter 1:

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Have you ever had the experience where you thought you had bought all the Christmas gifts you needed to buy, and then, to your horror you realize Christmas morning that you forgot someone? The Gospel Lesson for this morning gives us the opportunity to focus our attention on someone who is often forgotten about at Christmas time. Matthew's account gives us a glimpse of what Joseph went through that first Christmas.

Joseph, like us, had many concerns that first Christmas. The first thing which Matthew points out to us, is Joseph's concern for other people; especially one other person, his wife Mary. We are told that that Mary was "pledged to be married to Joseph." Engagement at this time was viewed differently than it is in our country today. Both Mary and Joseph had already promised their lives to one another as husband and wife. In the eyes of God and in the eyes of Jewish law, the two of them were already married. It was a custom of the time, however, that they would not live together as husband and wife until a certain time period had gone by.

It was during this time period that Joseph learned of Mary's pregnancy. Thinking Mary had been unfaithful to him, and wanting to divorce her, Joseph had two options according to Jewish Law. First, he could bring public disgrace on Mary by going through the proper authorities. In Deuteronomy chapter 22, the punishment for someone caught in the sin of adultery was death by stoning.

The second option Joseph had was to go through with the divorce in a much more quiet manner. He could simply give Mary a letter of divorce, and in this way save her from the severe punishment that the Law demanded. And in verse 19 we are told of Joseph's decision, "Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." By following through in this way, Joseph showed his great concern for his wife Mary.

Do you have any concerns this Christmas time? For us sinful people, during the Christmas season, it is often times easy for us to get caught up in the concerns we have for ourselves. "Will I get all that I want this Christmas?", is a thought that too quickly comes to mind. Such selfishness on your part and mine is a sin. And this sin makes you and me guilty before the holy and perfect God.

But at Christmas time we remember God's great love for you and me. With joy, you and I hear the Gospel message of our Savior's birth and the forgiveness of sins that he came to this earth to win for you and me. This Good News of the Gospel fills your hearts and mine with thankfulness and joy. The Savior's love for us, motivates you and me to put aside the concerns we have for ourselves, and switch our concern to those who are around us. Rather than worrying about ourselves, we are to show the same love God has shown to us, to those who live around us. How can we show this love? We can show love and concern for others not only in simply saying "Yes, I will help," but by making a real effort to share with others some of the blessings we have been given. Maybe that means sharing a hot meal with them, or shoveling out their driveway for them. One of the greatest gifts you and I are able to share with people this Christmas is the Good News of our Savior's birth and the forgiveness of sins that he won. May the Lord give you and me the desire and the opportunities this Christmas to show genuine, loving Christian concern for other people!

Do you have any concerns this Christmas? Because you and I are sinful humans beings, with a sinful human nature, we may, at times, loose focus on what is really important. Our concerns for the things and the people of this world may cloud over what is to be our most important concern not only at this time of year but at all times; that is, the Word of our God.

Joseph was not only concerned about his wife Mary, but he also showed that he was concerned about the Word of God. He showed this concern, first by listening to that Word. Matthew reports to us that an angel of the Lord came to Joseph during the night. The angel said to him: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take may home as your wife. . ." The angel then went on to explain Mary's pregnancy to Joseph: ". . . because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." Joseph listened to the comforting words the angel brought to him. Joseph also listened to the instructions the angel gave to him: ". . . you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew goes on to tell us that all this happened to fulfill what was written by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14 which reads: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Imman¬uel—which means 'God with us.'"

Joseph did not simply listen to what the angel had told him, but he acted on it as well. We are told that when Joseph woke up, "he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him." Joseph obeyed the Word of God. He took Mary home as his wife. He lived with her in such a way so that it was clear that the child was not his. He gave the boy that was born the name "Jesus", which means "God saves." By obeying everything the angel had told him, Joseph showed the faith he had in his God. In John's first letter God Word says, "Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them." Those who have been given faith in the one and only true God not only listen to His Word, but they show their faith by willingly obeying what God commands.

Do you have any concerns this Christmas? Today you and I are reminded to put aside the concerns we have for the things of this world. Rather, we are encouraged to make the Word of our God the most important part of our Christmas. You and I are not only to listen to what our God has to say to us, but to make an effort to put into practice what He commands us to do. This Christmas, before you rip open the presents, take time out to sit down and read the event of our Savior's birth. Open up your Bibles and read once again for yourselves about the tremendous love God the Father showed for each and every one of us when He sent us his one and only Son to this earth. As the joy of that first Christmas fills your hearts, pray that God the Holy Spirit would help you keep the Word of God as the most important concern in your life.

Do you have any concerns this Christmas? Along with many of you here this morning, Christmas is my favorite time of year. And with Christmas only a few short days away, it may become far too easy for you and me to lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas. May the Lord give you and me the strength not to get caught up in the con¬cerns over the earthly pleasures of this time of year. Instead may we show our concern not only for other people but more importantly for the Word of our God. Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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