September 5, 2021 – Matthew 1 – 2

Lesson Date: September 5, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 1:1, 16, 18-24; 2:13-15, 19-23

AIM: To lead students to discover that Joseph obeyed God unquestioningly in spite of the costs, and to examine themselves to see if their lives are marked by unquestioning obedience to God.


Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 1 – 2 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Prearrange with four of your students to do the brief role-playing activity described below.  You can print the four responses listed below and give them to the students.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the class today marks the beginning of a new quarter.  Get a stack of new Sunday School quarterlies and ask person # 1 to give one to everyone present.  Person # 1 should respond as described below.  Repeat for Person # 2, Person # 3, and Person # 4.

Person # 1: Why do I have to hand out quarterlies?  Everyone here is perfectly capable of getting one for themself.

Person # 2: I don’t want to hand out quarterlies.  Everyone will think I’m a “goody two-shoes” who is just trying to impress the rest of the class.

Person # 3: I don’t want to hand out quarterlies.  I’ve never done it before; and besides, I am far more comfortable sitting here in my chair.

Person # 4: Agree and immediately get up and start handing out the quarterlies.

Write the lesson title, “Unquestioning Obedience,” on the marker board or chalkboard.  Ask the class which of the four persons exhibited unquestioning obedience (Person # 4).  While the others may have obeyed, they argued or questioned your instructions.

Ask: “If you are a parent of children or a supervisor at your place of employment, which do you prefer when you give instructions: unquestioning obedience or questions and arguments?” (they probably prefer unquestioning obedience).

Tell the students today’s lesson from Matthew 1 – 2 is about a familiar Bible character in a familiar Bible story, but we are going to focus on his Unquestioning Obedience to God.



  1. Review and Introduction to Matthew.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (God was getting the Israelites ready to enter the Promised Land).
    • Explain the following:
      • For the next six months we will study the Gospel of Matthew.
      • Matthew was written about d. 50 by Matthew, one of the 12 apostles.
      • As such, it provides an eyewitness account of Jesus’ ministry here on earth.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 1:1.
    • Explain that “the son of David” is a messianic title. The Jews knew that the promised Messiah would be a descendant of King David.
    • Tell the students that verses 2-17 describe the genealogy of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus.
    • Read Matthew 1:16.
    • Note that Joseph was the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus Christ was born (he was not the biological father of Jesus).
  2. Joseph Obeyed God Even When Doing So Damaged His Reputation.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 1:18-19.
    • Explain the following:
      • Espousal in ancient times was much more binding than engagements are today.
      • The espoused couple had no physical contact for a period of 9-12 months in order to prove that they had not had sexual relations before marriage.
      • They were not yet living together, but they were legally bound to one another.
      • Espousal could only be broken by a legal divorce.
    • Ask: “What do you think Joseph thought when Mary told him she was pregnant?” (she had broken their espousal covenant by having sex with someone).
    • Tell the class that Joseph had the legal right to have Mary stoned to death, but since he was a just and kind man, he chose to divorce her quietly.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 1:20-23.
    • Ask: “Who appeared to Joseph in a dream?” (the angel of the Lord).
    • Ask: “What did the angel tell Joseph?” (don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, the baby was conceived through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, she will bear a son, and you are to name Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins).
    • Tell the students the Bible makes it clear that all of this happened to fulfill Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah.
    • Read Isaiah 7:14.
    • Tell the class the angel told Joseph that Mary would give birth to the promised Messiah. He knew that and Mary knew that, but the rest of the community did not know that.
    • Ask: “What would the people of Nazareth think if Joseph married a pregnant woman?” (that he was the father of the illegitimate child).
    • Read Matthew 1:24-25.
    • Explain that Joseph was a good, upstanding member of the community, but he obeyed God even when doing so damaged his reputation.
    • Ask: “Are you willing to do that?”
    • Summarize: Joseph was more concerned with obeying God than with what other people thought. That’s how we should be.
  3. Joseph Obeyed God Even When Doing So Meant Going into the Unknown.
    • Explain the following:
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 2:13.
    • Tell the students the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph again.
    • Ask: “What did the angel tell Joseph to do?” (take the baby and Mary and flee to Egypt). Ask: “Why were they to do this?” (because Herod was going to try to kill the baby).
    • Read Matthew 2:14-15.
    • Ask: “What did Joseph do?” (obeyed the angel – he took Mary and Jesus to Egypt).
    • Joseph was unfamiliar with Egypt, but he obeyed God even when doing so meant going into the unknown.
    • Ask: “Are you willing to do that?”
    • Summarize: Joseph was more concerned with obeying God than with any fear he might have of moving to an unfamiliar place. That’s how we should be.
  4. Joseph Obeyed God Even When Doing So Meant Leaving His Comfort Zone.
    • Tell the students that Joseph and his family settled in Egypt. Since Joseph was a skilled carpenter and the Egyptians were always building something, work was undoubtedly plentiful.  Their life in Egypt was probably comfortable.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 2:19-20.
    • Ask: “When did the angel of the Lord appear to Joseph again?” (when Herod was dead).
    • Ask: “What did the angel tell Joseph to do?” (take the child and His mother and return to the land of Israel).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 2:21.
    • Ask: “Did Joseph obey the angel’s instruction?” (yes).
    • Tell the class Joseph obeyed God even when it meant leaving his comfort zone.
    • Ask: “Are you willing to do that?”
    • Summarize: Joseph was more concerned with obeying God than with the comfortable lifestyle and plentiful work available in Egypt. That’s how we should be.
  5. Joseph’s Obedience Was Used by God to Keep Baby Jesus out of Harm’s Way.
    • Read Matthew 2:22-23.
    • Explain that on their return journey Joseph learned that Herod’s wicked and cruel son Archelaus was now king. Joseph was afraid to go back to Judea.
    • Ask: “What did God tell him to do?” (go northward and settle in Galilee; locate Galilee and Nazareth on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
    • Ask: “Did Joseph obey God?” (yes).
    • Tell the class God used Joseph’s obedience to keep His Son out of harm’s way.
    • Ask: “Can God use your obedience to accomplish His purposes?”
    • Summarize: Joseph’s unquestioning obedience was used by God to accomplish His purpose of keeping His Son safe. God will use us if we obey Him.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students in today’s lesson we discovered that Joseph received numerous instructions from God.  Ask: “Does the Bible give us any indication that Joseph argued with God about those instructions?” (no).  Ask: “Do we have any record of Joseph questioning God’s instructions?” (no).

Tell the students Joseph obeyed God even when doing so put his reputation in jeopardy.  God completely changed the course of Joseph’s life.  He was a fine, moral young man, but the people of Nazareth undoubtedly assumed he had fathered an illegitimate child.  He accepted that stigma (which was far worse in those days than it is today) in order to obey God.  Ask: “Are you willing to obey God even when doing so might cause people to think badly of you?”

Tell the students Joseph obeyed God even when doing so meant leaving his comfort zone and going into the unknown.  He left Judea for the unfamiliar and unknown land of Egypt, and later he left the home he established in Egypt to return to Galilee.  He didn’t argue with God, question God’s judgment, or even hesitate.  In both instances he arose from his sleep, took his family, and left immediately.  Ask: “Do you obey God immediately, without arguing or questioning?”  We question God’s directions because we think we know more than God.  Since Joseph had an established record of obeying God immediately, God could use his obedience to keep His Son out of harm’s way.

Ask: “If you were to look deep within yourself, is your life marked by unquestioning obedience?  If not, do you want it to be?”  Ask the students to bow their head and close their eyes.  Ask them to confess their sins of disobedience or of questioning God.  Encourage them to make a personal commitment right now to obey God unquestioningly.  Voice a closing prayer of commitment.


CONCLUSION: Encourage the students to obey God in everything He tells them.  Tell them Joseph knew God’s will because an angel spoke to him, but we learn God’s will by reading His Word.  Encourage them to read the Bible every day this week.  One way to do that is by following the Daily Bible Reading Guide found on pages 4 and 5 of the Sunday School Member Quarterly.

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