The Messiah is Born – Matthew 1:18-25 12/13/20

The Messiah is Born – Matthew 1:18-25 12/13/20


God’s great cosmic plot has never been off course. The plan of salvation, culminating in the person of Jesus Christ, can be traced down through the Scriptures, both in the Old Testament, and certainly, in the New Testament. All of these things funnel down to an obscure event that took place in a manger in a little town called Bethlehem. From there, well, God showed us what love is really all about.


Our conversation today will revolve around Matthew 1:18-21, more or less, and I invite you to read through it in your Bible. This passage is intended, at least in part, to address a surprise statement that we find in Matthew 1:16.[1] Look carefully at how this is worded. Up to this point there is the very predictable and normal, “so and so begot so and so…” and on it goes from verse 2 through verse 15.


It stops being predictable in verse 16. What we find is a break in the pattern; throughout the genealogical record has been “he begat” (ἐγέννησεν),[2] but with Jesus this transitions to “he was begotten” (ἐγεννήθη).[3] Instead of the focus remaining on the fathers, what we find is a transition to the mother, Mary.[4] With that transition, an abbreviated account of the birth of Jesus follows in Matthew 1:18.


This puts Joseph in a particularly awkward position. An espousal, or alternatively, a betrothal, is the act of becoming engaged for marriage.[5] In the ancient world, and still in some cultures, marriages were arranged by the parents.[6] Once this was accomplished the individuals were considered to be married, i.e. betrothed, and were referred to as husband and wife even though they had not yet begun to live together.[7]


The woman would continue to live with her parents for one year.[8] This waiting period was designed to show the couple’s faithfulness to their pledge of purity.[9] Following the completion of the waiting period the husband would go to the house of his bride’s parents and, in parade form, march her back to his home.[10] Only then would the couple begin to live together as husband and wife, consummating the marriage.[11]


In this situation Joseph had no desire to expose Mary as an adulteress, but neither could he proceed with the marriage.[12] It seemed obvious that she had broken her vows to him. Therefore Joseph sought to solve the dilemma through what appeared to be the least hurtful way possible.[13] Now, based on the Law the punishment was death;[14] Leviticus 20:10. However, under Roman rule the right of execution was limited to the Roman authorities. Even so, Joseph could easily have exposed Mary to public shame and relegated her to a life without honor. With that, we find Joseph being described as a “just” man in Matthew 1:19.


The meaning of “just” would be along the lines of a law-abiding person.[15] It would describe a person who would do the right thing. However, God intervened, and an angel of the Lord told Joseph what the real situation was, and what was going to be require do of him. We are often reminded of the price Mary would pay in mothering the Messiah, but we seldom think about the price the step-father would pay. Accepting Mary’s son required a great deal of personal integrity, and a great deal of faith.[16] In doing so, Joseph would make Jesus his legal heir and, from a Jewish perspective, a descendant of David.[17]


Now, Jesus wasn’t exactly what the Jews were expecting for their Messiah. They had more of a warrior King in mind. One of the results of this, therefore, was that Matthew had to demonstrate that Jesus really was the expected Messiah.[18] One of Matthew’s strategies in convincing his Hebrew readers that Jesus was the Messiah was to use extensive quotes from the Old Testament[19] He used 53 direct quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures, and used many more allusions to those same Scriptures, with the result that he uses references from 25 of the 39 Old Testament books![20]


Now the angel told Joseph what the Child’s name would be; Matthew 1:21. In Joseph’s culture, to name the child was to acknowledge the child as his own.[21] And yet, in reality it is not Joseph who names the child, it is God. Joseph is told that the child Mary is carrying is to be named Jesus,[22] meaning “Yahweh is salvation” or, alternatively, “the Lord saves.”[23] The name “Jesus” (Ἰησοῦς)[24] [‘Iēsous] means “Savior.”[25] “Jesus” is the English equivalent of the Greek form (Ἰησοῦς)[26] which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew form, “Joshua” (יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ)[27] [yehôšuaʽ]. Names are significant in the Scriptures, and this name points out that it is Jesus who will bring about Yahweh’s foretold eschatological salvation.[28]


This salvation was not limited to the Jewish race. Paul explained that children of promise means the spiritual Israel, and these are all of those who would believe in Jesus, regardless of race.[29] Have you received that little infant, the One born to die for your sins, as both Savior and Lord? That’s what He came for. That will change your life, if you let it.


[1] Donald Hagner, Matthew 1-13, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 33a, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Dallas, TX.: 1993), 14. [2]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Mt 1:15. [3] Donald Hagner, Matthew 1-13, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 33a, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Dallas, TX.: 1993), 14. [4] Donald Hagner, Matthew 1-13, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 33a, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Dallas, TX.: 1993), 14. [5] James M. Freeman and Harold J. Chadwick, Manners & Customs of the Bible (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 397. [6] Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 20. [7] Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 20. [8] Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 20. [9] Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 20. [10] Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 20. [11] Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 20. [12] Donald Hagner, Matthew 1-13, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 33a, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Dallas, TX.: 1993), 18. [13] D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 75. [14] Philip King and Laurence Stager, Life in Biblical Israel: Library of Ancient Israel, (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY.: 2001), 60. [15] Roger Hahn, Matthew: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. Ed., David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2007), 55. [16] Roger Hahn, Matthew: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. Ed., David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2007), 55. [17] Donald Hagner, Matthew 1-13, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 33a, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Dallas, TX.: 1993), 18. [18] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 527. [19] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 527. [20] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 527. [21] Roger Hahn, Matthew: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. Ed., David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2007), 56. [22] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 59. [23] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 59. [24]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Mt 1:21. [25] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume IV, Matthew – Romans, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 11. [26]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Mt 1:21. [27]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Jos 5:15. [28] D.A. Carson, Matthew, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 8, Matthew, Mark, Luke, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Richard Polcyn, (Regency Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1984), 76. [29] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Mt 1:21.

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