This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
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.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:18-22
Today’s passage is Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus. In Matthew’s account we see Joseph’s reaction to being told that his soon to be bride Mary is pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. In it we, also, the decency of Joseph because he “was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” In order to understand this we have to understand the ages of both Mary and Joseph. Joseph would have been between the ages of 18-20 and Mary would have been between the ages of 12-14. Joseph would have found it hard to believe that a young girl in her pre-teens would lie about something as sacred and holy to the Jewish people as having had a visit from an angel and being made pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. But he still felt bound to uphold the law, which said that he could divorce her and publicly shame for brining dishonor on him and the community. However, Joseph only wanted “to divorce her quietly”, because he could not publicly shame and disgrace someone that he believed in his heart was telling the truth.
Now we come to the heart of today’s passage, because Joseph was just thinking about quietly divorcing Mary and had not taken any action on those thoughts yet. And as he is thinking and pondering about what he is to do in this unique situation he has an encounter with God in a dream. It is in this dream that Joseph is told not to divorce Mary, but to take her as his wife because what he believed to be the truth was in fact the truth, “because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” God then goes on to tell Jospeh this, “She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” The question now becomes what is so important about the name Jesus?
The name “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew word “Yeshua” (Joshua), meaning “the LORD saves”. This name describes the future mission of Mary’s son and is the early promise of the gospel-the “good news” of spiritual salvation through Jesus. As the Savior, Jesus “will save his people from their sins”-their spiritual rebellion and offenses against God. Sin is the greatest enemy of the human race because it separates humankind from God and is present to destroy every enteral soul and every life. However, Jesus broke the power of sin by sacrificing his own sinless life to pay the full penalty for our offenses against God. Those who accept God’s forgiveness and yield their lives to Jesus are spiritually transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit (the same Spirit by which Jesus was conceived and born into the human race). Such people are spiritually “saved”-rescued and set free from the guilt and slavery of sin.
Now we come to the last two verse in today’s passage, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” These last two verses contain the most important aspect of today’s passage, which is that everything that happened to both Mary and Joseph happened to fulfill God’s plan and promise that he had given long ago to his people through the prophets of old. Which means that Jesus was really and truly born of a virgin, even though there are elements of modern Christianity that will try and deny this fact. And they do this in complete and total disagreement with the Scriptures. And here is why.
Both Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel narratives agree that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin mother-that is, without the participation of a human father. The prophet Isaiah also promised a virgin-born child who would be called “Immanuel”, a Hebrew term meaning “God with us”. Isaiah’s prediction was made 700 years before the birth of Christ. And there are three big reasons why the virgin birth is fact and not fiction.
(1) The word “virgin” in today’s passage is the correct translation of the Greek parthenos found in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament). The Hebrew word used by Isaiah for virgin (almah) means a young woman who is old enough to be married but who has not yet had any sexual relations. This term is never used in the Old Testament for any state other than literal virginity. This means that Isaiah in the Old Testament and Matthew and Luke in the New Testament all attest to the fact that Jesus’ mother was a virgin from the time of Jesus’ conception to the time of his birth.
(2) The importance of the virgin birth cannot be stressed enough. In order for Jesus to qualify as the only One who could pay the price for our sins and restore our broken relationship with God, he must be fully human, totally sinless and yet fully God. In order for Christ’s sacrifice to be able to cover sin once and for all, his life had to be perfect-undeserving of death-and only God himself could provide such a perfect sacrifice. The virgin birth satisfies all three requirements. The only way Jesus truly could become a human being in every sense was to be born of a woman. The only way he could be totally sinless-not only throughout his life but from birth-was to be conceived by the Holy Spirit. The only way he could be Devine (fully God) was to have God as his Father. Jesus was conceived not by natural but by supernatural means: “the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). As a result, Jesus Christ is revealed to us as one Person with two natures-divine God and sinless human.
(3) By living and suffering as human person, Jesus understands and identifies with the feelings of our weaknesses. As the Son of God, he has the power to free us from sin’s destruction and Satan’s power and to restore our relationship with God. As both God and human, he qualifies to serve as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of every person who ever lives. He also qualifies as the ultimate high priest who serves as mediator between God and all who come to him for mercy and forgiveness. Being fully God and fully man, Jesus was able to bridge the gap that sin had created between God and all humankind. Which is the true reason that we celebrate Christmas. Remember that as we move through these last hectic days before Christmas.