Share This Episode
Insight for Living Chuck Swindoll Logo

Let's Witness a Troubled Romance in Nazareth, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
December 18, 2020 7:05 am

Let's Witness a Troubled Romance in Nazareth, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 856 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
The Line of Fire
Dr. Michael Brown
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Running With Horses
Shirley Weaver Ministries
Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

Most of us tend to picture Mary and Joseph as an idyllic Jewish couple, but fail to comprehend their plight.

In their first century culture, pregnancy out of wedlock was shameful. Imagine what it was like for Mary to hear the news that her body carried a child, and he would become the Savior of the world. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll invites us to enter into this dramatic real-life story, thinking about the mixed bag of emotions felt by these two innocent teens. Chuck titled his message, Let's Witness a Troubled Romance in Nazareth, and he begins today's message with prayer. Our Father, I pray that you will give us the same willingness to obey as was modeled by Joseph upon hearing from the angel. Give us this sense of assurance that when you speak, it deserves our obedience. May we be able to close a deaf ear to what others may think or say.

May we follow you explicitly from start to finish. Thank you for this story and how it unfolds for us in such a simple and yet profound way. Thank you also for the privilege of giving to the work of ministry. Use these gifts in significant ways, not only in this community, but around the world. These things we pray in the name of Christ, our Savior.

And all God's people said, Amen. There is no courtship more intriguing, more fascinating than the one between Mary and Joseph of Nazareth. Unique in every way, you know some of the details, but the truth is there is much about their lives of which we know nothing. We know nothing of their original families. We don't know precisely what the neighborhood's response was when they did marry rather hurriedly, breaking the betrothal and moving quickly into a marriage.

There's another factor in all of this I want to get into because it ties in with things I want to say. It's amazing to me how the Christmas story revolves around Mary and almost only Mary. How many Christmas cards emphasize Joseph?

How about the songs? Mary, did you know? What about Joseph, did you know? But it's Mary, did you know?

Here's another one. What child is this who laid to rest on Mary's lap is sleeping? Didn't the baby rest on Joseph's lap as well? It's all about Mary. We are programmed to think mainly of Mary with the baby. Now admittedly, Joseph has nothing to do with the conception of the child, but he figures into the story highly, as we shall see. But he just doesn't enter our mind when we come to the Christmas story.

I thought of this when I was reading Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink, where he tells an imaginary puzzle and leaves you as a reader to answer the puzzle to show you how things just don't flash into your mind like a blink of an eye. Listen to this story. A man and his son are in a serious car accident. The father is killed and the son is rushed to the emergency room. Upon arrival, the attending doctor looks at this child and gasps, this is my son.

Who is the doctor? You read that story and you realize it's a puzzle. It isn't obvious, as Gladwell writes, it's not like a math or a logic problem that can be worked out systematically with pencil and paper.

He goes on, the only way you can get to the answer is if it comes to you suddenly in the blink of an eye, from which he gets the name of the book, Blink. You need to make a leap beyond the automatic assumption that doctors are always men. They aren't always, of course.

The answer to the puzzle is now obvious and clear. The doctor is the boy's mother. But you don't think that when you read the story, at least most don't. It's like that we have a mental block regarding the significance in the Christmas story of the role Joseph filled. It's simply not in our mind. She's the mother, he's her husband, not the father, but he is her husband. But to be honest with you, going on the basis of tradition, who cares?

Well, I'll answer it quickly with two words. God cares. He cares so much that in the genealogy of Matthew, he traces Joseph back through his heritage all the way to the Jewish father of the nation, Abraham.

You can track it for yourself. You see, Joseph is mentioned when you get to verse 16, you go all the way back, you see it traces him back to Jesus Messiah and ties it into the story of Abraham and his generations that followed. Now look closely at verse 16. As I mentioned it, Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. The Greek reads, from whom Jesus was born.

See the words in your Bible, from whom? Hold on for a little pedantic moment here. In the Greek, that's feminine singular. Now why do I make a point of that syntactical construction? Because Joseph's out of the picture. When it came to the conception, Jesus, Mary, from whom Messiah was conceived, was born. The tiny construction underscores the virginity of Mary. She is the parthenos, the Greek term for one who has never known a man intimately. She, the parthenos, alone, it's the Greek way of saying she alone bore the Christ child.

No involvement with any man. Now one other fascinating part of this whole story is that the reader knows things that a character in the story does not know. I like books like that. You read certain novels or you read certain nonfiction books and you learn things that the people in the story being told in the lines of the book don't know. In this case, we know something right away that Joseph did not know. Now if you forget that, much of the fascination is lost. Much of the understanding is overlooked. Joseph is a carpenter.

Let me just put it in simple red-blooded terms. He is in love with Mary. He looks forward to their wedding day when he will be alone with her, when they will know each other intimately, when they will begin their family together and they will have their children. He's working in the carpenter shop, I don't know, making a bench for Asa and Rebecca in their home or maybe a yoke for old Solomon's oxen.

He's thinking about his work. Mary is somewhere else apart from Joseph, maybe working in a home, maybe alone in a room, in someone else's home serving, and she's stopped in her tracks, visited by an angel who says, you're the chosen one. She's shocked, especially when she hears, you will bear the Christ child, and her immediate response was, of course, how?

How can it be? I've never known a man intimately. Never had sexual relations with a man. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be overwhelmed at the presence of the Holy Spirit and the one you bear will be the Messiah. Understand, all of this is known by Mary, none of it is known by Joseph.

Now, I realize as I speak to an audience like you, you know all of that, but if you could just remove yourself from the familiar and read it as if for the first time, you'll appreciate what Joseph is going through. Let me say it this way, especially if you are a man and you love this woman that you have met and you want to spend your life with her, and one of the things that has drawn you to her is her purity, her transparency, and you've never touched her intimately. You have never once violated that part of her life.

You're saving all of that for marriage. And she says to you, out of the blue, I'm pregnant. Your first reaction is, who's the father?

It isn't me. And then she says, of all things, it is all of God, and you're hearing God made me pregnant. Remember, Joseph has never read Matthew 1, okay? I always remember that kind of thing when I come to a story like this because we are very familiar, many of us are, with the contents of Matthew 1. No one has whispered in Joseph's ear, by the way, everything she says is true.

You know what he's hearing from his buddies in the carpenter's shop? Get rid of her. You don't want to spend your life with a woman that won't be faithful, and she told you God made her pregnant? That's blasphemy, Joseph.

That's the kind of counsel the people of the street will give you, or the people in the shop, or the office. And let me add another twist to this whole thing. She leaves right away to spend three months with her cousin Elizabeth, down in Judea, 90 miles from Nazareth. We don't have a record of when she said goodbye. We don't even know if she told him she was pregnant before she left to see Elizabeth, or after she came back.

That's not in the sacred record. So we're left with our imagination. Which brings me to an interesting book I've just finished reading. It's a book titled Mary, What the Bible Really Says by a man, a pastor named Douglas Connolly, and he helps us with a little imaginative part of the story.

Listen to a few things Connolly writes. Maybe this is how the scene unfolded. Shortly after Mary's return from her visit with Elizabeth, so he's assuming she didn't tell him until she came back. Which only adds to the intrigue, because his question would now be, what happened while you were away? What were you involved in? Who was this man that got you pregnant?

And on and on. So Connolly goes on, after her return with Elizabeth, she met Joseph in the garden of her parents' home, or some other suitable location, and told him that she was, quote, with child. She told Joseph, not with tears of shame, but with confidence.

That's also interesting. How could she speak with confidence and no shame about being pregnant, and I've had nothing to do with the pregnancy. Continuing, she told Joseph with no tears of shame, but with quiet confidence. At first Joseph couldn't believe what he was hearing. He even entertained the thought that Mary was joking with him, but he knew Mary would never joke in such a coarse way. What she said was true. She was pregnant. Joseph's first question was the one any man would ask in the same situation.

Who is the father? Joseph's conscience was clear. He had never violated the purity of their engagement. His relationship with Mary had been carried out in full view of her family and the close-knit community surrounding them, but Mary obviously had not been the person Joseph thought she was. One of the things that had attracted Joseph to Mary was her humble desire to live transparently before her God and before the community of believers around her. But now, in one brief conversation, Joseph found his perception of Mary shattered and his life in shambles.

Just a few more words. When Joseph asked her who the father was, Mary said an angel of God had spoken to her and told her she would conceive miraculously. Her son would be the promised deliverer, the Messiah, God's son.

She said it so calmly, confidently. But how could Joseph believe a story like that? He left the garden without saying another word and went back to his home to cry. He wrestled for hours with his response. Divorce seemed his only solution. Local opinion would be harsh. Most people would tell him to divorce her openly in a public condemnation before the religious leaders. That would bring Mary shame and reproach or worse. In the old days, before the restrictions of Roman law, an adulteress was stoned. This was adultery, even though the marriage had not been consummated.

For in Jewish custom, the betrothal period began with the exchange of solemn vows as bonding as those of a modern wedding ceremony. You get the picture. Joseph is a real dilemma.

What do I do? We pick up that story down in verse 20. Look at it for yourself. As he considered this, I should go to the previous verse. Joseph, her husband, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly. He decided to break the engagement to divorce her quietly.

You could either do it publicly and make a show of it or just quietly have it handled with a rabbi, and life goes on. He chose that in his mind. That night, wrestling over the issue, look at what happened. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. This, by the way, is the first time Joseph gets the information from anyone other than Mary. It comes from an angel, which in those days was not uncommon because the scriptures were not yet complete.

God would speak through angelic appearances or night visions. And in this case, the angel appeared to him in a dream, called him by name, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will have a son. You are to name him Jesus. He will save his people from their sins. Matthew then adds, all this occurred to fulfill the Lord's message. Through his prophet, the virgin will conceive a child and will give birth to a son. They will call him Emmanuel, that is God with us.

Now look at this response. The only thing Joseph has to go on is the angelic appearance, the word in a night visit from an angel. Joseph woke up. He did as the angel of the Lord commanded. He took Mary as his wife and did not have sexual relations with her until the son was born. And he named him Jesus.

It's amazing to think that in God's master plan for humanity, he chose a young innocent Jewish couple to deliver deity. Through their troubled relationship, Jesus was born and Christ embodied the gospel. You're listening to Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll titled today's message, Let's Witness a Troubled Romance in Nazareth. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at Now just before we hear a closing comment from Chuck, I'm pleased to tell you that Insight for Living has access to several years of preaching material never before shared on the broadcast. The archive of sermons and our possession is very deep.

And this January, we have the delight of hearing a brand new series from Chuck. It's a verse-by-verse study through the New Testament book of Matthew. To prepare for this significant study, we invite you to purchase the brand new hardbound two-volume commentary from Chuck. It's called Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary on Matthew. If you secure the two books now, you'll receive them in plenty of time to prepare for the study that begins in January.

To purchase Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary on Matthew, go to slash store. Or if you're listening in the United States, call one of our friendly staff members at 1-800-772-8888. Chuck? Thanks Dave. No one has come through the challenges of 2020 completely unscathed. All of us have suffered loss at some level. Whether we've lost someone we love to the coronavirus, or suffering a financial setback, or maybe you've been removed from seeing your family as you would love to do, all of us have stories to tell.

I know this is true because during the pandemic of 2020, I've heard from many of you. I've read your stories, some of them heart-rending. These shared stories of struggle have woven us together. In fact, in this history of Insight for Living Ministries, I've never felt a greater connection to our family of supporters all around the world, even though many of us have been self-isolated or even quarantined.

Thankfully, because of the internet and the reliability of our radio stations, our daily visits on Insight for Living have continued during this year without interruption. And, as God provides through men and women like you, we promise to be with you every single day in 2021 as well. Along those lines, can I count on your support as we come to December 31? Many have already given generously to help us enter the new year with strength.

Some, due to the challenges imposed by this pandemic, have not been able to do so. We fully understand. Yet, many of us can give and even should give. God will lead us in how much we should give and when we should do that. So, as we conclude the unforgettable year of 2020, I'm personally inviting you to participate in the mission of Insight for Living Ministries. Please give a generous end-of-the-year donation as you are able. Let's pull together as a family, one member at a time. Thanks so much for doing your part.

And here's how to respond to Chuck Swindoll right now. If you're listening in the United States, you can give by calling us at 1-800-772-8888 or by going to our website at And then, while you have a little extra time this weekend, we encourage you to set your alarm on Sunday morning to join us online. You're invited to take a front row seat in the worship center at Stonebriar Community Church. Thousands are taking advantage of this weekend worship experience. Not only is they hear Chuck's Bible teaching, but the majestic music as well.

You'll find all the instructions at slash Sundays. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues to describe a troubled romance in Nazareth, Monday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Let's Witness a Troubled Romance in Nazareth, was copyrighted in 2019 and 2020, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2020 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-14 05:18:22 / 2024-01-14 05:26:07 / 8

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime