Thursday, December 21, 2006


Joseph’s fiancée, Mary, had gone to visit her relative, Elizabeth, in the hill country of Judea for three months. When she returned to Nazareth she was already three months along in her pregnancy. Though none of the neighbors would notice the swelling in her abdomen because of the kind of clothing she wore, they could all still add. Even if Joseph took her to be his wife immediately, eventually everyone would know she had become pregnant before they were married. He was in a difficult situation. Joseph decided to do the honorable thing. He decided to divorce her quietly and try to spare her the immense shame of her situation. But before Joseph could go through with his plan the Lord sent an angel to appear to him in a dream. The angel explained to Joseph that Mary was pregnant by a special work of the Holy Spirit of God! It might be a touchy matter with the neighbors (Jesus never did quite fit the expectations of people!) but Joseph should go ahead and marry her. The testimony of this angel is that the son whom Mary was carrying was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit.

The angel tells Joseph that he should name the boy “Jesus” (1:21). The name “Jesus” means “Jehovah saves.” Others had had the same name and that name was their testimony that they trusted in Jehovah alone for their salvation. However, this boy was to be given the name as more than just a testimony to the work of God. He was to be given this name because of what he would do! He would be called “Jehovah saves” because that salvation would be his own work! Joseph’s angel says, “He will save his people from their sins.” This boy would be their Savior! But only Jehovah can save people! That is precisely the angel’s point! This boy was Jehovah in the flesh! He was God incarnate.

Matthew obviously recognizes the significance of the angel’s words and he adds his own commentary in 1:22, 23. There is no question in the mind of the author that Jesus was God incarnate. Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew was reminded of the prophecy found in Isaiah 7:14, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,” which means, “God with us.” Matthew believes the testimony of the unnamed angel who came to Joseph. What shall we do with his testimony?


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