|Matthew 1:18-25||Read Online|
The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
—Matthew 1:18 (HCSB)
Don’t you sometimes marvel at how God uses just the right solution to address a daunting problem that, in our human eyes, has no solution? The world is incurably corrupt. Its people do evil continually.
Solution? “Understand the I am bringing a flood—floodwaters on the earth to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it…” (Genesis 6:17). And He sends a flood that spares none but Noah, using a handmade, wooden ark as a means of deliverance.
The Israelites are in the desert, being pursued by a huge, well-armed army led by an angry pharaoh. In front of them lies the Red Sea. There’s no visible escape.
Solution? “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to break camp. As for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground’” (Exodus 14:15-16).
These examples are only glimpses of His power to work in human events—His miraculous “solutions.” Much later, He determined the time was right to reveal Himself to man, who had wandered continually and had hopelessly lost his way.
Solution? So great was His love that “He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
How could the Gospel writer recount such an incredible, long-awaited fulfillment of prophecy in a single sentence? Matthew had already painstakingly recounted His genealogy as an appropriate stage for Jesus’ miraculous birth.
In Matthew 1:18, the facts are clear: Mary and Joseph were engaged, but haven’t yet joined together in marriage. Mary was pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Though at that moment, Joseph didn’t yet know what had happened. He didn’t know he had to take action. It was a dilemma, since the child couldn’t be his. He could only think of one solution: divorce her quietly.
The conception Matthew describes is supernatural—one neither he nor Joseph could have imagined since every birth they and their contemporaries knew about involved the union of a man and a woman. How amazing was it that this supernatural activity of God presented Jesus as fully man (born of Mary) and fully God (born of God’s Holy Spirit)? Such a thing had never happened!
While Joseph pondered next steps, he encountered an angel of the Lord in a dream. The angel directed him to take Mary as his wife, explaining that the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. There! It has been repeated a second time—there could be no doubt this child was of the Holy Spirit!
Luke says it this way (as the Angel Gabriel spoke with Mary): “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
The angel’s instructions, which Joseph obediently followed, meant the Child would be considered his legal offspring, a descendant of David. And the wondrous purpose of His coming was revealed: “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
We can almost hear Joseph gasp, “How can such a thing be? Mary and I are at the low end of the social scale. We have nothing, and in man’s eyes, we are nothing. Yet, God sees the situation differently. His solution is straightforward, unbelievably costly.”
In choosing the path of obedience, Joseph was allowed to play an important role in the care and safety of Jesus, God’s most precious gift to man. He carried out his charge to the letter, taking Mary as his wife, keeping her as a virgin until the birth of her Son, and calling His Name Jesus.
As if this weren’t enough good news, Matthew goes on to confirm: “Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:22-23).
In this third confirmation of the virgin birth, we glimpse God’s grand design. He means to live among us so that we can know Him, see Him as He is and enter into a personal relationship with Him.
Don’t you still find it amazing and incredible that Sovereign God, Creator of the Universe, chose to come to earth and live among us so that we might know Him? What is your response to the reality of His presence today?
- Scripture stresses that Jesus was fully god and fully man. Why is this important?
- How is it that Joseph could so readily hear and accept the angel’s instruction?
- Why is it important that Jesus’ birth had been prophesied for centuries and that the details of more than 1,100 prophecies were confirmed at His coming?
- What choices must you make to experience “God is with us?”