Sermon:
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX

If you were going to make a list of the great loving couples of history, who would be on your list? Romeo & Juliet? Anthony & Cleopatra? Napoleon & Josephine?

Probably Mary & Joseph would not be on your list, for when we think of them we don’t normally think of them in that way because they’re usually on the sidelines, & the spotlight is on Jesus, where it should be.

But I think that if we examine the love of Mary & Joseph, we would realize it was a love that would stand the test of time. The love they had for each other, coupled with the love they had for God, culminates in one of the greatest love stories ever told - the story of Christmas.

So this morning, I invite you to look at Christmas through the eyes of Joseph, & hear Joseph’s Christmas story. You’ll find it in the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew, beginning in vs. 18.

PROP. There are 4 parts to the story, & in each of these parts you will see how much Joseph loved Mary.

I. HAPPY EXPECTATIONS

The first part of Joseph’s story is one of happy expectations. Vs. 18 begins with these words, "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph . . ."

A. Now we need to understand that the Jewish marriage consisted of 3 stages. The first stage is the engagement. Usually that was set up by their parents. Two sets of parents would get together & talk things over. One would say to the other, "We would like to have your daughter marry our son." Her parents would reply, "That sounds like a good idea. Let’s discuss it." And these two sets of parents would arrange the engagement without the young people even being involved.

ILL. One example of that in the O.T. was when Abraham sent his servant to his home country to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant found Rebekah & brought her back. Isaac had never seen her before. Then she became his wife.

ILL. Most preachers see a stream of young people in love, wanting to get married, with moonbeams in their eyes. They’re caught up in the emotions of romance, making decisions that will affect them all the rest of their lives.

SUM. The Jews felt that young people did not possess the wisdom to make that kind of a decision, so the parents made the decision for them.

B. The second stage of a Jewish marriage was called "Betrothal." During this time the young couple agreed to the marriage, signed a legal document, & were considered "husband & wife." But they didn’t live together yet. It was a time of building a relationship, of coming to know one another. It was a time of planning & dreaming & happy expectations. And this time of betrothal usually lasted about a year.

Now notice that Matthew says, "Before they came together." There were no sexual relations during this time. Joseph loved Mary so much that