Typically at the end of a year, it is easy to become a little pensive as we ponder all that has happened over the past twelve months and realize how fast time is flying by. As I look at last year’s Christmas card while choosing pictures for this year’s card, that truth is driven home in a fresh way this Christmas. And with that truth comes the question: “What kind of legacy am I leaving my sons?” There will come a day, all too quickly, that my time is done and they will carry on without me. What images will be burned into their memories? Matthew paints for us a picture of a dad who left the kind of legacy that I want to be true of me. In 1:18-2:23, Matthew gives us his account of Jesus’ birth and all the events that surround it. The story starts with a bit of scandal as Joseph finds that his fiancée is pregnant, and as he was getting ready to end his relationship with Mary, he received a visit from an angel via a dream; the angel said to him, “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” (Matthew 1:20b – ESV).
Stop and grasp that for a moment. Try to wrap your mind around what Joseph was being told (as if the visit from an angel wasn’t mind-blowing enough!). Joseph, you need to get married to a girl who is carrying a baby (you are going to be a dad way sooner than you thought) and this kid is the direct result of God’s hand. Talk about life-changing truth! And so Joseph had a choice. Would he obey the angel’s directive or would he proceed with plans to separate from Mary? A few years later, Joseph has another dream and gets another visit from an angel. The news delivered this time is just as life altering as the first: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13 – ESV). Someone is out to kill your son, Joseph; you have to move- and not just to another city, but to another country, and you have to go now. And so Joseph faced another choice: would he obey the word of an angel and move to a different country with his young son and wife?
Some time later, Joseph has a third dream and another visit from an angel who told him to, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” (Matthew 2:20 – ESV). And so Joseph was faced with another choice: would he trust what the angel told him, that the danger was indeed over, and move Mary and Jesus back to Israel? Three dreams, three visits from an angel, three commands, and one response from Joseph: Faithful obedience. It was faithful obedience that caused Joseph to go ahead with plans to getting married to a girl who was already pregnant. It was faithful obedience that caused him to move his family to another country in the middle of the night. It was faithful obedience that caused Joseph to move his family back into the “lion’s den.”
It is this kind of faithful obedience to the words of God that you and I are called to leave as a legacy for our sons. But I don’t want you to think that it is now up to you to muster up the will power to force yourself into faithful obedience. That will never happen. The way that you and I are capable of faithful obedience is the same way that Joseph was able: because we have a God who is faithful to His promises.
The main point of Matthew’s birth narrative is that God is faithful to His word. In these 31 verses, Matthew shows us five different Old Testament texts that were fulfilled, which screams to us that we can be faithful in our obedience to God because He was faithful to His promises. Joseph obeyed because he believed the promises of God. The secret to our obedience is the same… belief in the promises of God. This is what Christmas is about: God’s faithfulness to his promises made visible, the word becoming flesh, that we might believe in His promises and live lives of faithful obedience. This is the legacy we are called to, dads. Is this the legacy your sons will remember?