For the past few weeks, you have probably heard sermons preached from the initial chapters of Matthew and Luke about the birth of Jesus as we celebrate the Christmas season. As I read Matthew, I not only see a message about the birth of our Lord and Savior, but the Godly character of Jesus’s earthly parents and challenge for the new year.
I think we all would agree that Joseph and Mary were specifically chosen for the holy task of parenting God in human form. No one would argue that God selected them out of a vast pool of other candidates. They must have had life histories of obedience and righteousness. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law,a and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. Matt. 1:19 The footnote about Joseph indicates that he was a righteous man. In his righteousness, we see that he also had a choice. He was going to do what he deemed the right thing. He would end their relationship because obviously…there was a disconnect. Both Mary and Joseph were humans with the free will to do as they chose, but God likely chose them because they had a history of choosing His way, listening to Him, and doing what He would have them do. Unwed Mary would need to carry this unplanned pregnancy to term, risk losing her husband/fiance, risk her parents’ reaction, endure the side-eyes and whispers of family members and strangers…then she would need to raise this strong-willed, miracle-performing, young man. When I read this, I ask myself…could God choose me? Am I obedient to Him that He could trust me to do His will and not my own?
As we read on to the next few verses, we see why Joseph did not exercise his free will. Matt. 1:20-21 "But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Joseph had to know God and trust Him. We don’t read anything about Joseph being skeptical about this message, interrogating Mary, or seeking a second opinion from his friends. Sometimes what God asks us to do is counter-intuitive, counter-cultural, and can seem nonsensical, but we must trust His plan, and put aside our own. Again…could God choose me? Can He trust me to do His will and put aside my logic and sense-making to do what He asks me to do?
In the second chapter of Matthew, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream once again, “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.” 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,” (Matt. 2:13-14) In two more instances, angels appear to Joseph and tell him to take the child and his mother to a new place. This is recorded in verses 20 and 22. At no point do we see Joseph bargaining with the angels, or even tarrying. In v. 14, he got up in the middle of the night and took Jesus and his mother to Egypt. Could God choose me? Am I obedient in His time or my own?
Could God choose me? Could God choose you? As we close out 2022 and look to 2023 with hope and expectancy, I realize that there is no hope outside the will of God. I want Him to be able to choose me, no matter how big or small the task. I want to be building a life resume that has a long list of bullet points of my obedience - my immediate obedience, not obedience after I’ve mulled it over, said no, changed my mind, delegated for assistance, and made a budget. He can’t choose me if I operate only on my one timeline and within my own comforts. He can’t choose me if put my will first and His secondary. I want to live a life that honors God, shares His goodness, and draws others to Him. I want Him to be able to use me to advance His Holy Kingdom. As 2023 approaches, how do you want God to use you? Are you living a life that proves He can trust you to do His will? Everyday we live, we see people in our community and beyond that need to know the love of Jesus Christ. I challenge you to use 2023 to begin living such that God can chose you to help grow His kingdom. Amen.