TEXT: Matthew 1:18-25
The students will recognize that just as Joseph was obedient to God’s directions, we, too, must obey as we learn His will for our lives.
The word espoused refers to a marriage agreement similar to engagement, but it was as binding under Jewish law as marriage. Thus the virgin Mary’s pregnancy would appear as a breach or violation of her espousal to Joseph, when in reality she was with Child of the Holy Ghost.
Being a carpenter, Joseph undoubtedly taught Jesus the trade. In Mark 6:3 Jesus is referred to as “the carpenter.” Matthew 13:55 refers to Jesus as “the carpenter’s son,” and lists his brothers as “James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas.” Verse 56 includes “his sisters.” So we know that Joseph and Mary parented a rather large family.
At one point, John tells us that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:5). However, James later became the distinguished leader of the Jerusalem church, and is believed to be the author of the Epistle which goes by his name. Judas (or Juda) was probably the author of the Epistle of Jude. Little is known of Joses and Simon.
Joseph was mentioned briefly during Christ’s public life, while Mary and Jesus’ brethren appear frequently. Christ, on the cross, deemed it necessary to commend her to the care of one of the disciples, which seems to indicate that Joseph was not living at that time.
Obeying a stop sign may save your physical life. Reading and obeying God’s Word will save your spiritual life. No doubt one of the reasons Joseph was selected out of a world of men to become Jesus’ earthly father was that he could recognize and then obey God’s command.
- What Scripture in our text indicates that Joseph was a man of God? Explain.
Response: Joseph was a just man (verse 19). Help the students to discuss the word just, and to see that in order to be just they must be justified. Romans 1:17; 3:23-24; 5:1
- Name one thing that was done which shows that Joseph honored the Law of God. See Luke 2:21-24.
Response: The students should see that by Joseph’s obedience to God’s Law concerning circumcision (Genesis 17:10), he was showing evidence of being a just man.
- The Scriptures record in Matthew 1 and 2 at least three times when Joseph heard God’s directions and then was obedient. Name them.
Response: Encourage students to read the Scriptures they found. These will be Matthew 1:20,24; 2:12-13,19-21. In the discussion bring out how Joseph was prompt in his obedience. Continue with the thought that when one puts off doing what God has said, it sometimes becomes harder to do.
- When do you think Joseph understood what Isaiah 7:14 meant?
Response: Have someone read Isaiah 7:14. Discuss with your students the fact that when the angel said, “thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins,” Joseph realized the truth of Isaiah 7:14—Mary was the virgin spoken of, and Jesus was Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.”
- In verse 20, what, in the natural, might have made it difficult for Joseph to obey the command of the angel?
Response: Help the group to realize that by human understanding, it would have been a difficult situation for Joseph to have taken Mary as his wife, considering that not only was she already with child, but in addition, that child which was conceived in her was of the Holy Ghost. Encourage the students to cite specific examples of situations in their lives where it might be difficult to obey, but in obedience they receive God’s blessings.
- It would have been a different story if Joseph had not obeyed God. Give a situation of your own experience when obedience paid off. Now jot down and discuss the possible consequences of disobedience concerning the situation you have noted.
Response: Allow students to cite the examples they have written, with the thought of comparing results of obedience with disobedience.
- Which of the following prevented Moses from entering into the promised land? See Numbers 20:8,11.
(a) speaking to the rock
(b) not smiting the rock enough times
(c) smiting the rock
Response: Some of your students may respond with answer (c), which is the action Moses took. However, (c), or smiting the rock, was actually only an outward manifestation of (d) disobedience. The result of this action, the fact that Moses was unable to go into the Promised Land, should reveal to the students the seriousness of disobeying God's commands.
- Which of the following saved Noah from the Flood?
(a) his family
(b) the ark
(d) all of the preceding
Response: Again, this question may elicit a response of letter (b). However, it was (c), or obedience, which really saved Noah. With this question your students should realize that obedience always brings God’s approval.
- In our daily lives, obedience is of utmost importance. What did Jesus say were the traits of a wise man? a foolish man? See Matthew 7:24-27.
Response: Help the students to understand that “hearers” must be “doers.” These words of Jesus show the results of obedience and disobedience, and in the discussion it should be brought out that God demands obedience in our lives today.
Tell the class that if they are asked by their parents not to touch a hot stove and they disobey, it may leave a scar on them. Liken this to the sins of the world and how they can leave scars on their lives. How much better it is to obey in the first place.
Disobedience doesn’t always mean something terrible will happen. Many times though, it does mean we will miss out on a blessing. In Joseph’s case, God could have found another man to become the earthly father of His Son but Joseph would have lost that blessing. What about the servants at the Marriage at Cana? Or any of the other happenings we read of in the Bible? Ask your students to remember times they disobeyed. What might have happened if they had obeyed?
Have a question and answer period with your students. You write out situations that pertain to obedience on different colors of paper, fold them in half, and put them in a wide-mouthed jar or another clear container of your choice. Have your students draw the situations from the jar and tell you the correct response to the situation and what the results might be if they choose wrong.
Red light — cross anyway — accident
Told to be home early — decide not to obey — miss surprise party.
Cinquain (sin-cane) is a type of poetry. It is written in this form:
1st line — one word — topic
2nd line — two words — description of topic
3rd line — three words — action by topic
4th line — four words — feeling or statement of topic
5th line — synonym for topic
Have your students write or help you write a Cinquain about obedience. It can be on the subject itself or about an obedient person. Below is an example of Joseph:
Obeyed the Lord
Reared God’s only son
Give a sandbox object lesson on Matthew 7:24, illustrating that the obedient one stands in testing times because he hears and obeys.