Week 50: Messenger
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25
Sometimes, when we read familiar Bible passages we can have a tendency to miss some very significant truths found in them. Especially…passages like this, that often are only read around the Christmas season.
You see, we read that Joseph is a just man and all of his plans have been undone. He was engaged and he planned on spending the rest of his days with his betrothed, Mary. Then he finds out that she is “with child.” So, in order not to shame Mary (which would have ruined her life forever in that culture) Joseph decides to leave her quietly. And then an angel or a messenger shows up.
Now, the content of the angel’s announcements to Joseph is not only very important for Joseph and his life, but it’s also very important to us and our understanding of salvation. The angel lets Joseph know that Mary’s not pregnant with another man’s baby, but that the baby in Mary has been conceived from the Holy Spirit.
Now, the reason this is significant, is not just because it’s a miraculous birth, but it is a must in order for Jesus to be our Savior. Romans chapter 5 lets us know, that we all are born into sin because we are born under the curse of Adam. Jesus was born sinless because He is not the offspring of Adam, but is physically conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Next, the angel names this miracle baby, his name shall be called Jesus. By the way, the name Jesus in Hebrew is Joshua or Yehoshua. The name means “savior.” Like Joshua, in the Old Testament led God’s people into the promised land, this Yehoshua would lead all of God’s people into the promised land of eternity with Him. This baby would grow up into a man, Jesus, not to merely be a great moral teacher, but to be the Savior.
The angel lets Joseph know that Jesus, the Savior, has been the plan all along. The angel quotes the prophet Isaiah. Not only did Isaiah let us know that Jesus would be born to a virgin, but in Isaiah 53 he lets us know that the Savior would take all the punishment for our sin and that we would be credited with His perfect life.
Jesus did not come into the world to simply teach sermons or show compassion to people in need or even to perform miracles. All of those things were a means to an end. And the end, the reason that Jesus came, was to die on a cross for the sin of mankind and be resurrected three days later for the glory of God.
And finally, the angel tells Joseph that this child will be “Immanuel,” God with us. I cannot over emphasize how important this statement is. Every religion in the world has a couple of things in common. First, they all agree that there is a problem with humanity. There is something broken, something wrong and there must be some way to make things right with God.
All other religions, though they differ in detail, prescribe what mankind must do to make its way to God. This is where the gospel is radically different. The gospel is that because of who God is and for His own Glory and to demonstrate His love for us: God came down in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
This is Christmas. That Jesus is sinless, Jesus is Savior, Jesus is the sacrifice and Jesus was sent.