Turning my thoughts toward this coming Lord’s Day (I will be preaching at PRBC in the morning), the Christmas observance, and our memorization passage, I wanted to note some of the key truths found in the passage, again as a way of helping to “fix” the text in our minds.
And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
Joseph honored God’s laws regarding marriage, and hence, upon the discovery of her being with child, could not go forward, he thought, with the marriage, but at the same time, did not desire to disgrace her, so he planned to send her away secretly. We get a picture of how God-honoring and righteous a man God chose to function, in the earthly sense, as the mentor and father of the Messiah. He did not act rashly, but as the next verse says:
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
He took time to think, to consider. He did not act in the kind of emotional haste that marks modern men. It was at that time that an angel of the Lord came to him and informed him that the Child “who has been conceived in her” did not come from natural intercourse, but was the product of divine action, divine creation. Surely as Joseph received these words he could not help but immediately think of the prophecies of the Coming One, the Messiah. So when he received these words, he could not help but realize that what Mary had said was true:
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
The term in Greek translated “you shall call” is kale,seij, second person. Joseph knew what that meant. The father named the child, and Joseph was going to have to be a father to a divinely conceived child. The only way he could do that would be to take Mary as his wife. And, of course, that meant he was to function as the father of the promised Messiah. What an incredible duty! One is reminded of the wonderful song by Michael Card, Joseph’s Song and the chorus,
Father show me how I fit into this plan of Yours.
How can a man be father to the Son of God?
Lord for all my life I’ve been a simply carpenter.
How can I raise a king? How can I raise a king?
His name will be Jesus, Yeshua, Jehovah is salvation, for the simple reason that He will do something. Not that He will make something do-able. Not that He will make a plan available. No, He is called Jesus because He actually will accomplish something, and that, specifically, saving His people from their sins. Two things:
First, we need to be saved from our sins. Sinners are not just “ill” so that they should be looked upon with pity. No, sinners need to be saved. Sinners love their sin. They revel in it. Look around you. Look at the TV. The billboards along the road. Listen to the radio, read a magazine. See? Sinners love sin. Sinners praise sin. Sinners encourage others to sin. That’s the nature of sin, that’s the nature of sinners. We need to be saved from our sins, because we most certainly cannot save ourselves. We cannot because we do not want to be saved from what we love. That is what makes the Arminian gospel so silly upon reflection: making a plan available without providing for the radical change of the corrupted heart is as brilliant as making it possible for Yankees t-shirts to be sold outside Fenway Park—wrong product, wrong place.
Secondly, He will save a particular people. He will not save every single person on the planet. Yes, He could have, had that been the choice of the Triune God. But universal salvation would have left God with no choices, no demonstration of the breadth of His attributes. His grace would have been a given, hence, not free, not sovereign. Instead, He saves His people from their sins. He is Savior. A given, you may think? Not in today’s theological landscape. Few truly believe it anymore, to be honest. [continued shortly]