Matthew 1:18-25: God’s Will God’s Way

Read: Matthew 1:18-25

Mary becoming pregnant with Jesus certainly raised eyebrows. Based on what we do know about her, she was a devout Jew betrothed to the righteous Joseph. The Bible records that both Mary and Joseph followed the traditions of the Jews by observing festivals and rites and religious observances at the temple (Luke 2). Mary getting pregnant before she was married among a community of devout Jews was certainly taboo, and the penalty for such was death (Deuteronomy 22:23-14). Joseph knew this and did not want to make a spectacle of Mary or see harm come to her even though under the law she could have been killed, so he decided to to dismiss her quietly.

Twice in this text though Matthew affirms that the baby Mary was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit. An angel reveals this to Joseph and also reminding him that he was the Son of David. The common belief of Jews was that the Messiah would come from the line of David. Luke 1:34-35 also confirms that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit means that Mary broke no law — rather it pointed to the fact that this was indeed God’s will and God was using Joseph and Mary’s lives to bring about his purposes.

Matthew shows the importance of the virgin birth by invoking the prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, which is echoed in Isaiah 8:10 and Isaiah 9:6-7. Isaiah is speaking about a prophecy concerning the coming of the King of Assyria that was coming as a conqueror to Israel, but it wouldn’t happen immediately. It would come some time after the child was born to a virgin. When this boy came of age, then the judgment would come. This would be followed by a time of restoration and this child would assume the role of King David. While this prophecy was literally fulfilled in part during the time it was given, the restoration with a King in the line of David was not and is where Jesus comes in. Like the Isaiah child, there will be a time of relative calm between of his birth and second coming, but after that judgment will fall and Jesus will be enthroned forever (Revelation 22).

But if fulfilled prophecy wasn’t enough, even the names given to Jesus pointed to God’s purposes. Emmanuel, as the text states, means “God is with us”. Jesus is the Anglicization of the Greek, which as a transliteration of the Hebrew “Yeshua” which means “God Saves”, and Matthew notes that Jesus would save people from sin.

Jesus’ first coming was not to judge the world, but to save it (John 3:17). His second coming will be the time of when he returns to judge the world. Christians today are living in the interim period between his first and second coming and God is still accomplishing his purposes through ordinary individuals like Mary and Joseph. Every believer has the Holy Spirit working in him or her like Mary guiding and directing believers (John 14:26). Christians therefore ought to be as Joseph and Mary and respond in obedience to what God wants from them so that his will can be accomplished on earth!

Lord, I am willing. Use me as you see fit for your glorious ends!