Fourth Week of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-16; Matthew 1:18-25

St. Joseph, 1787
Antoine Alexandre Morel 

Joseph: A Just Man of Honor

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from 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 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).  24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25 ESV

REFLECT. Read the story one more time, taking some time to listen and reflect.

  •  What caught your attention?
  • Now take a good look at the picture of Joseph, taking it in as a whole.
  • What stands out to you?  What do your eyes stop and center in?
  • Now go back and look at the details. 
  • What do you notice about Joseph? 

IMAGINE. Use your imagination to consider Joseph as a man of integrity and in good standing in his community. He learns that the woman he is engaged to is pregnant, and it is not his baby. And she wants him to believe that she is the one chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. Consider what intense emotions he must have been feeling, and the anguish of making the best decision for Mary and both their families.

    Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put (Mary) to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly...Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but (did not sleep with her) until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

    Matthew 1:19,24-25

    PRACTICE HONOR. As a protector and man of honor, Joseph did what he could to keep Mary from being shamed in her family and community.  Joseph delayed his own sexual needs to safeguard her virginity not only before marriage, but until Jesus Christ was born, fulfilling the prophecy that the virgin would conceive and bear a son:

    “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

    • As a partner, spouse, or friend, how can you protect those you love from shame or harm? 
    • What sexual desires can you lay aside to honor God, yourself, and others?
    • Consider how you might be allowing culture, media or pornography to influence your thoughts and actions in dishonoring ways.
    • Spend time being “present” to the “God with Us” in this season.

    One way to honor God with your family is to celebrate the coming of Immanuel. Light the fourth candle of Advent: Love, and read the Gospel story of God’s love for us demonstrated in Joseph’s love for his family.

    WORSHIP AND LAMENT. The words to this beloved Advent song, O Come O Come Emmanuel, catch the melancholy lament of waiting in the darkness of shorter winter days for the promised One to come. Prayers of lament help us approach God with the realities of our sadness and anxiety. Make it your own prayer for God to come and dwell “With Us.”

    O come, Thou Day-Spring Come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here. Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death’s dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. O come, Thou Key of David, come And open wide our heavenly home Make safe the way that leads on high And close the path to misery.

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