MATTHEW 1:18-25 THE BIRTH OF THE KING
18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
A word or two sufficed to describe the birth of all the kings whose names we have read; but for our Lord Jesus Christ there is much more to be said.
The evangelist girds himself up for his solemn duty, and writes: — “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. ” It is a deep, mysterious, and delicate subject, fitter for reverent faith than for speculative curiosity. The Holy (host wrought in the chosen virgin the body of our Lord. There was no other way of his being born; for had he been of a sinful father, how should he have possessed a sinless nature? He is born of a woman, that he might be human; but not by man, that he might not be sinful. See how the Holy Ghost co-operates in the work of our redemption by preparing the body of our Lord!
19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
Mary was espoused to him, and he was saddened and perplexed when he learned that she would become a mother before they had been actually married. Many would have thrust her away in indignation, and put her to an open shame; but Joseph was of royal mind as well as royal race. He would not expose what he thought to be the sin of his espoused wife: although he felt that she must be put away, he would do it quietly. When we have to do a severe thing, let us choose the tenderest manner. May be, we shall not have to do it at all.
20. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
He could not but feel very anxious, and no doubt he prayed about these things both day and night. God would not leave the honor of the chosen virgin-mother without protection. Soon Joseph had the best of guidance.
From heaven he had the assurance that Mary had not sinned, but had been favored of the Lord. Joseph is reminded of his royal rank, “thou son of David ”, and is bidden to cast away his fear. How he must have been comforted by the Lord’s “fear not ”! He was to take Mary under his tender care, and be a foster-father to the son who would be born of her.
Mary must have been in great anxiety herself as to whether her story of angelic visitation would be believed; for it looked improbable enough. We doubt not that faith sustained her; but she needed much of it. Every great favor brings a great trial with it as its shadow, and becomes thus a new test of faith. The Lord very graciously removed all suspicion from Joseph’s mind, and thus provided for the honor of the mother, and for the comfort of the holy child. If Jesus is born in our hearts, we shall have trouble; but the Lord will witness that Christ is ours, and he will surely bear us through.
21. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
The Lord of glory is born the Son of man, and is named by God’s command, and by man’s mouth,JESUS the Savior. He is what he is called. HE saves us from the punishment and the guilt of sin, -and then from the ill effect and evil power of sin. This he does for “his people ”, even for all who believe in him. It is his nature to do this, as we see in the fact that his very name isJESUS — Savior. We still call him by that name, for he still saves us in these latter days. Let us go and tell out his name among men; for he will save others.
22, 23. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name \bEMMANUEL, which being interpreted, God with us.
Who would have thought that the prophecy contained in Isaiah 7:14 could have referred to our Lord? One of these days we shall discover a great deal more in the inspired Word than we can see today. Perhaps it is needful to our understanding a prophecy that we should see it actually fulfilled. What blind eyes we have!
It is pleasant to mark that, according to this verse, and the twenty-first, EMMANUEL andJESUS mean the same thing. “God with us ” is our Savior.
He is with us as God on purpose to save us. The incarnation of Jesus is our salvation.
To cheer Joseph, and decide his mind, Holy Scripture is brought to his remembrance; and truly, when are in a dilemma, nothing gives us such confidence in going forward as the sacred oracles impressed upon the heart. How conversant was Joseph with the prophets to have their words before him in a dream! Lord, whether I read thy Word when awake, or have it brought to my memory in my sleep, it is always precious to me! But thou, Lord Jesus, God with us, art dearer still; and the written Word is chiefly precious because it speaks of thee, the incarnate Word.
24, 25. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took onto him a wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Joseph was not disobedient to the heavenly vision in an, respect. He did not delay, but as soon as he rose he “did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him. ” Without delay, demur, or reservation, he obeyed. What holy awe filled his heart as he welcomed the favored virgin to his home, to be respectfully and affectionately screened from all evil! What must he have thought when he saw the Son of the Highest lying on the bosom of her whom he had espoused! He was happy to render any service to the newborn King. Since he accepted Mary as his espoused wife, her child was the heir of Joseph, and so of David; and thus was by right the King of the Jews. Our Lord Jesus had a birthright by his mother; but his right on the father’s side was, by Joseph’s act and deed, also put beyond dispute.
Let us leave this wonderful passage worshipping the Son of God, who condescended to be born the Son of man. Thus our God became our brother, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. The nearer he comes to us, the more humbly let us adore him. The more true the kinship of our King, the more enthusiastically let us crown him Lord of all!