Leading a Rebellion: Joseph
Activity: Pair off one male and one female. Have each group act out the different scenes. Each scene is Mary telling Joseph she is pregnant, and Joseph’s reaction.
-2 mimes -A Western Movie -2 Body builders
-2 Spanish speakers -Overly dramatic soap opera -2 Mafia members
-2 French speakers -A deaf couple -2 people who only text
-2 Arabic speakers in the Taliban -2 opera singers
-A rebel is a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.
The Story So Far:
-Marriages were arranged by parents at that time. Girls were usually married around 14 years old and guys around 25. Usually the two were completely separated and never met, but because they were from the small town of Nazareth they probably would have met a couple of times.
-The two would have been officially engaged at a ceremony in front of their families and then Mary would go and live with her parents for about a year until she moved in with her husband. After the engagement ceremony, Mary would have been called Joseph’s wife.
-During this year long process Mary was visited by an angel.
Luke 1:26-35 “6 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God.”
-It should be noted that Mary was never asked if she wanted to do this , but was told what was going to happen to her. Mary’s response was, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be done according to your word.”
-So here we have a man and woman engaged to be married, separated for a year, and keeping themselves pure for each other, when Mary becomes pregnant. Imagine the awkwardness of that conversation. “Joey?” “Yes?” “Remember how we’ve never had sex?” “Yes.” “Well…”
-Because Mary was Joseph’s wife and because adultery was a serious sin punishable by death, her life was in jeopardy. Joseph could have done numerous things. He could have dragged her to the public square, shamed her and her family in front of the whole town, presented the evidence of her adultery and had her executed. It was not just Mary’s reputation that was being disgraced it was also Joseph’s. Either Joseph had sex with Mary before they were officially married, or Joseph’s betrothed wife cheated on him. Both would have been humiliating. There was a time when unmarried pregnancies was still shocking.
-Publicly shaming and executing Mary would have been the normal thing to do, but Joseph did something else. Matt 1:18-19, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] 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.” Joseph decided to act with mercy rather than justice.
-It is important to note that Joseph had already decided to act in mercy before he himself received a vision from God. Matt 1:20-21 describes the vision he received, “ 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.”
-Joseph chose to act with mercy when society said to act with justice. Have you ever done something wrong and had to face your punishment? You know you are guilty. You got caught. There is no question that you are going to get into trouble, and then you get off scot free. For me it was a speeding ticket. I got pulled over on Carol St. I didn’t know the speed limit which is not an excuse. I was going 42 in what turned out to be a 25. The officer asked me some questions. I admitted I didn’t know how fast I was going or what the speed limit was. While he went back to his car, I began calculating how big the fine was going to be, how I was going to pay for it, and how I was going to tell Rebekah. The officer gave me a warning, and let me know the fine would have been over $300. That was an object lesson in grace. I was guilty, but did not have to pay for my crimes.
-Is there someone in your life that has wronged you that you haven’t let them off the hook yet? Perhaps they are still under the punishment of your cold shoulder or silent treatment. Maybe it’s time that you let them go. You don’t have to let them hurt you again, but maybe you can say, “You hurt me, but I’ve been forgiven for a lot of things in my life so I’m going to forgive you.” That doesn’t mean you have to be friends with them, or ever talk to them again, but you will be free knowing you did what you were supposed to do.
-The Bible says that those who have been forgiven much will love much (Luke 7:47). Are you having trouble loving or forgiving other people? Perhaps it’s because you don’t feel like you have been forgiven.
-Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.