Joseph is one of the key characters in the story of the birth of Jesus, especially so in the text of Matthew 1:18-25, but he can easily be overlooked in the preaching of the Christmas narratives – probably because he doesn’t get to say anything at all. Even the shepherds and wise men get some lines in the gospels, but Jospeh gets none! Even though that is the case, we can ‘read between the lines’ and see what was going on in Joseph’s mind and heart, and how in a crisis situation, the angel who spoke to him in his dream put everything into perspective for him – even if he didn’t fully understand the implications of it all!
• The fourth in this series! • Does Joseph get left out of the story? • Not much told us about how he felt… • See how we are told of how the angel…
Appeared to him in a crisis (v.18-20)
Averted him from his intentions (v.20)
Assured him of God’s purposes (v.21-25)
Joseph is not alone in needing rescue! The great exchange!
Christmas 2023 has come around again with its usual rush of shopping, end of year functions, school speech nights and break ups. Every year Christmas seems to come and go so quickly that many could easily question whether or not the time spent is worth it? Surely there must be some who are thinking that this year they’ll just ‘give it a miss’? I wouldn’t blame them.
Some already know a sense of emptiness when it comes to observing Christmas, which a sad reality of the world we live in. The Bible even asks us this question, ‘Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?’ (Isaiah 55:2) Why indeed? If all that spending and shopping and scurrying just leaves an empty feeling, then why bother?
Perhaps the cause of the confusion is simply this – in our rush and hurry to observe Christmas, we miss the whole point of it! The ‘reason for the season’ is ‘Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners’ (1Timothy 1:15). Like it or not, Jesus is one huge question we must all answer. No longer a little baby in the manger, he is a returning King to whom we must all give account. He won’t ask how we spent Christmas, but what He will ask what we did with Him as the gift God sent for our salvation (see John 3:16-17).
When the angel Gabriel finally found the moment to meet up with Mary, his initial greeting to her was something Mary wasn’t prepared for. It seems as though the appearing of the angel to her was not the cuse of her discomfort, but the greeting and what it might mean for her. It certainly brought change. Far more change than she could ever have anticipated, but God was also in that change, and though she wondered ‘how?’, the angel could answer that question as well. As a result, Mary submitted herself to do God’s will and accepted the Lord’s promise to her that she would be the mother of the Messiah with a humble heart.
• The third in this series! • The dangers we face • The text’s context… • See how the text tells of …
The setting of the well known prophecy about the birth of Jesus through a virgin in Isaiah 7:14 is set in a context of a fascinating story about King Ahaz of Judah in Isaiah 7:1-14. Ahaz was in a bit of a spot, politically. The neigbouring nations of Syria and Israel (!) were threatening to attack and he was afraid. It was then that the Lord sent the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz with a message that basically said, ‘trust Me, I’ll even show you a sign if you want one…’ But Ahaz refused. So the Lord gave Ahaz another sign, one of His own making, about the coming Messiah. But this sign wasn’t for Ahaz, but for us who live in this age (A.D.). The sign, of course, is Jesus!
• This Christmas series! • Learning from the past • The chapter’s context… • See how the text tells of …
A King who was afraid to trust (v.1-9)
A sign that was offered to assist (v.10-11)
A virgin birth was promised as proof (v.13-14)
Who was the sign for? Will you be like this faithless King?
Genesis 3:15 would have to be one of the most important verses in all of the Old Testament. Straight after Adam and Eve’s rebeliion against God’s righteous rule, the Lord himself promised that the ‘seed of the woman’ would one day come and crush ‘the head of the serpent’. This verse is widely known as the first announcement (or proclamation) of the gospel, and it is very, very good news – all fulfilled in Jesus, the seed of the woman!
• A Christmas series! • The unfolding story to grasp… • What a text to begin with! • See how the text tells of …
On returning to the area of Capernaum after his ministry throughout the regios of Israel and beywond, the ‘Israeli Tax Department’ caught up with Jesus and his disciples, asking Peter if his master had paid the ‘temple tax’. Peter assured them that Jesus had, only to enter the house where Jesus was and take part in a conversation with Jesus that ended up with Peter going fishing and catching a fish with a shekel in it’s mouth to pay the tax, for Jesus and for Peter!!
• All over the place with Jesus • Now back to Capernaum and a challenge… • A story found in Matthew only… Why? • See how the text tells us of …
Jesus, as a Jew, was subject to this tax (v.24)
Jesus, as the Son, had grounds to ignore this tax (v.25-26)
After being gloriously transfigured up on the mountain, Jesus and his three disciples, Peter, James and John, soon came down from the summit to face reality. There, right in front of him, was a challenge in the form of a pleading father, bewildered disciples, a critical crowd and a demon-possessed boy, all recorded for us in Matthew 17:14-23. And yet, Jesus was clearly in charge of the whole situation and used it once more to speak of his impending death.
• Another turning point in the text! • From up on the mountain to down in the valley… • A confronting story…and Jesus takes charge! • See how the text tells us of …
The reality of sin and the misery it brings (v.14-16)
The words of Jesus and the truth they bring (v.17-18)
The key to the miracle and the help it brings (v.19-21)
Afflicted from youth… The only One who can deal with sin!
The reader of Matthew’s gospel goes to many places with Jesus, as we have noted in these last few chapters…by the sea, on the water, in the region of Tyre and Sidon and even at Caesarea Philippi. But the next place that jesus would go, according to Matthew 17:1-13, was the mountain top, where he was transfigured before three of His disciples. This would be a moment they would never forget, as evidenced by the later of two of them, Peter and John, whose testimony about Jesus is clear. They saw His glory.
Our travels with Jesus
Next event in a long line of them…
Sleepy disciples …now and later
See how this transfiguration confirmed…
An unwelcome message (v.1-3, 12)
An unfinished story (v.4-6)
An unmatched Saviour (v.7-8)
What was Jesus’ purpose here? From the mountain of glory to the cross of shame!