If you missed part 4 of “Believe Christmas” CLICK HERE to listen to Sunday’s Message, “Believe the HOPE of Christmas”
Good morning devotion reader…
With Christmas Day at the end of this week, I’d like to journey with you through the accounts found (or not found) in the four Gospels that relate different details and perspective on the birth of Jesus. While the image of the baby in a manger is familiar, I invite you to consider the details that are communicated and the importance of them (Also notice what details we assume about the Christmas event that are not found in the Gospels.)
We begin with Matthew.
Matthew is writing to an audience of Jewish people and has as a purpose throughout his Gospel to draw the connection between Jesus and the Old Testament prophesies. Perhaps ironic as Matthew was a tax-collector called to follow Jesus, and yet many of his Jewish people thought him to be a traitor. Yet God’s Spirit inspired him to reach the very Jews that called him a “sinner” with the saving message of the Messiah.
Lineage was important for the Messiah. I invite you to look at chapter 1:1-17 as Matthew begins the book with tracing the lineage of Jesus back to Abraham. The Messiah must be a descendent of Abraham to be authentic. Matthew does the research and checks that box for the reader right at the beginning.
With the lineage of Jesus established, Matthew jumps into the first prophecy: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) (Isaiah 7:14).
But for this prophecy to be fulfilled, it created questions, confusion, and finally confidence in Joseph. Who wouldn’t wonder what happened if the lady you are engaged to is found to be with child. Assumption is that another man is involved.
So God intervenes to explain to Joseph what was taking place. Mary was not unfaithful. Mary was the human vessel for the Son of God to take on human flesh. The miracle of Isaiah’s prophecy was playing out in real time in Joseph’s life.
Joseph does as the angel of the Lord commanded. He dismissed the idea of divorce and courageously embraced the role of being the earthly father of Jesus.
“And gave him the name Jesus.” We don’t hear a lot about Joseph’s role in Jesus’ life, but following the word of the Lord through the angel he gave Jesus his human name: Jesus. Why? Because Joseph believed he truly would “save his people from their sins.”
Enjoy reflecting on the faithfulness of the Lord spurring the faithfulness of Joseph to be a faithful father to Jesus and husband to Mary:
18 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. 19 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.
20 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. 21 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.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Apply: What detail or insight from Matthew’s account enhances your appreciation of the miracle and significance of Jesus’ birth?
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for sending Jesus into the world through the miracle of a virgin birth and under the watchful and faithful care of his earthly father Joseph. AMEN