Posts Tagged ‘angel in a dream’

Did Joseph Really See an Angel?

December 19, 2011

Title: Did Joseph Really See an Angel?

Text: Matthew 1:18-25

Time: December 15th, 2011

One of the great benefits of the Christmas season is we can explore all the many different Nativity themes found in the Bible. I love the holiday season because it gives me an excuse to teach and preach about the birth of the Lord Jesus in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. There are some pastors, sadly, who actually don’t enjoy the Christmas season, because they claim they are expected to come up with fresh messages on the old familiar Nativity topic – which they find difficult to do. But I’m just the opposite. I love to dig around the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in order to find some different angle on Christmas, some theme that hasn’t been explored thoroughly, so that I might preach on that. So I rather enjoy digging in to the accounts of the birth of Jesus because there is so much there that needs to be mined for all the truth it contains. So from that perspective, let’s dig into another issue involving the first Christmas account found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter one (read). I’d like to focus on one specific passage, Matthew 1:20-21, 24, “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’. . . When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” Now for the longest time I as a Christian I was under the impression that Joseph, husband of Mary and earthly, human father of Jesus, had encountered an angel – or had an angelic visitation that told him what to do. I later learned that the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. Now my question is, is there a difference between really seeing an angel and simply dreaming you saw one? Or put another way, is there a difference between having an angel appear to you and having an angel in a dream appear to you? Well, clearly there is a difference. For example, if someone came up to me all excited and said, “I just had an angel appear to me and tell me something!” If I asked further and said, “Where did this angel appear to you?” And if they responded, “In my dream last night,” clearly, it would be less impressive than if an angel had really appeared to the person while he was awake. Why? Because all kinds of things pop into our heads during dreams, some pretty strange, bizarre and mysterious. But if we were to have something appear while we are fully awake, such as an angel, like, for example, what the shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem encountered with the angels in Luke 2 – that would be truly impressive and special. But for an angel to appear in a dream? That might seem a little under whelming. But is it? What really happened to Joseph? Let’s look at what happened to poor Joseph that night which convinced him to marry Mary. I’m not calling into question the reality of the vision, I’m just asking questions about it that might help us all understand our Christmas faith better. (more…)