December 13 Discussion Guide

Matthew 1:18-25

Christian traditions have long held up Mary, the mother of Jesus, as one of the Bible’s great examples of faithful obedience to God. Joseph often receives less attention than his wife, but his faith is no less miraculous.

Think about all the reasons that Joseph might have found to disbelieve God and reject his role as the adopted father of the son of God.

  1. The pregnancy of his fiancée Mary
  2. The laughter about the claim that Mary was a virgin
  3. The public shame that Mary’s pregnancy would bring
  4. Likely family pressure to divorce Mary
  5. The sheer enormity of responsibility care for the savior of the world
  6. The likelihood of rejection by respectable society
  7. The potential of being drawn into political disputes with Herod or Rome
  8. Self-doubt that Joseph had really understood correctly what God was telling him
  9. The rift that Jesus’ claims about himself would cause within the family

Joseph, upon hearing what God wanted him to do, simply did what he was told by taking Mary as his wife and naming Jesus as a son. This is a great example of what God does in the life of a person who believes. 

Joseph is known as a just and good man, but he goes way beyond the social requirements to be just and good. He doesn’t accomplish some superhuman feat. What Joseph does is to actually obey God from a position of faith. I call this obedience miraculous because it runs counter to almost every instinct in the heart of men.

Faith and obedience are the works that God desires to do in our hearts through his son, Jesus.

Discussion Questions

  • What would have found the most difficult thing to believe if you were in Joseph’s position?
  • Which command of God would you have found the most difficult to obey?
  • How do you imagine Joseph responded to friends and family who questioned his decisions?
  • Do you imagine Joseph being confident in his decisions, or was he unsure? 
  • How do Joseph’s acts of faith parallel the faith that other believers are called to?
  • What work do you think God had to do in Joseph’s heart for him to believe and obey?
  • What do you view as the impact that Joseph made through his place in God’s story of salvation?

Group Challenge for December

  • Challenge each other to memorize the first part of the Nicene Creed printed above. See how many people in your group are able to complete the challenge by Christmas. Bonus to memorize the last section as well.

We believe in one God,
      the Father almighty,
      maker of heaven and earth,
      of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
      the only Son of God,
      begotten from the Father before all ages,
           God from God,
           Light from Light,
           true God from true God,
      begotten, not made;
      of the same essence as the Father.
      Through him all things were made.
      For us and for our salvation
           he came down from heaven;
           he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
           and was made human.
           He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
           he suffered and was buried.
           The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
           He ascended to heaven
           and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
           He will come again with glory
           to judge the living and the dead.
           His kingdom will never end.

Jonathan Pugh
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