Matthew 1:18-25: God and Savior
January 2, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The birth of Jesus Christ, as we remember at Christmas, is the fulcrum of the world, the center point of history, and the very pinnacle of God’s salvation plan—as it works its way out through the life, death, resurrection, ascension and return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This God-man, this baby, was born Savior of the world.
But how strange it must have seemed to Joseph, and this part of the account in Matthew is told more from his perspective. Joseph, being an honorable man, resolved to divorce Mary quietly, keeping his allegiance to the law of God, but also avoiding causing unnecessary shame and pain to Mary and her family. But an angel of the Lord appears to him and explains the cause of Mary’s unexplained pregnancy: it is supernatural in origin, from God, and in fulfillment to all the “hopes and fears” of the years. This birth is from the Holy Spirit.
Many down through the years have struggled to accept the virgin birth. Some have even suggested that Joseph was gullible and did not understand how babies came about. But we can tell from Matthew’s account that he knew full well what was going on—or he thought he did. The reality is that the birth is supernatural. It makes no sense from a natural or scientific point of view, as Joseph well knew. But God is able, as he desires, to perform miracles, which by their very definition are rare events, not common, and run contrary to the typical course of nature. (This itself is a description of God’s ordered nature and the expression of his constant upholding of the universe according to his nature as an ordered being, and the definition and expression of order and goodness and righteousness and holiness and love and beauty).
The fulfillment of the prophecy is straightforward enough. But why is his name “Immanuel,” meaning “God with us” (1:23), and then Joseph calls him “Jesus” (1:25), meaning “God saves”? It is the combination of what the angel said and what the prophesy promised. He is God with us, the God-Man, and his role is as Savior, God saves. He is truly Immanuel Jesus. The one name was his given name, another is one of his titles, and both are descriptive of his role and purpose as the incarnate Savior.
There is a quiet wonder here. A humility that is purely majestic. A silent word gently pleading. Come and be saved. Would you bow before this baby, worship him as God, and receive him as your Savior?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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