Obedience (Matthew 1:24-25)

The Nativity, Master of Vyšší Brod, Mistr Vyšebrodský

“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

Matthew 1:24-25 is at first glance just a simple note telling us only that Joseph was obedient to God’s instruction through the angel. It is enough to know that of course – because that is all that is needed to keep to the core message of who Jesus was. On the other hand, Luke tells us a huge amount of circumstance that Matthew glosses over. Recognizing that, we can realize that Matthew is telling us the story of Christ’s birth largely from Joseph’s viewpoint – leaving Luke to tell it to us from Mary’s. 

The circumstance Matthew skips (Luke 1:39-80, 2:4-40) is the subject of much of our Christmas pageantry today; the young couple’s journey to Bethlehem, the refusal of a room at the inn and the birth of Jesus in the manager, amidst the animals. Of course it’s possible that Matthew simply didn’t know about other details, like Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and Zechariah’s encounter with Gabriel in the temple (things Luke found out in his careful study of all that had happened). All the same, one thinks that he would’ve surely known more about Jesus’ birth. Yet he is not alone in dropping such detail – neither John nor Mark give it either. Mark introduces us to Jesus at his baptism, and John tells us who He was before time, and then introduces us to Him at his baptism.  

The point is that each of the Gospel writers reflects Jesus’ life from their vantagepoint.  Each tells the truth (for they write from the Spirit’s prompting) but each speaks from their own frame of reference. The glory of Christ is such that it cannot be fully represented from one voice or one account– just as the Scripture is never fully explained in a single sermon or by a single teacher. The Glory of God is such that it takes all of us, living all of eternity, to merely reflect the character and nature of God. Such is our purpose, because we were all made for His glory. As His Word says, “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—  everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

We can ponder that and wonder if it would’ve added to our ability to know who He is or all He did to have more than four accounts of Jesus’ life, but that is idle speculation for fallen flesh. What is important is that we do as Joseph did. That we promptly obey God’s instructions as given to us, knowing that God is giving them specifically to us – and that we seek to honor His Name with our whole being in both what we do and in what we deliberately do not do.


Obedience to the Lord is not only measured by how much we do for our Savior, but by how we obey Him when nobody is looking.

John Wimber

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What has God asked you to do in this season of your life? 

What have you given up for the sake of His Name, honour and glory?

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