December 18, 2016
Introduction: Jesus and Savior are a natural play on words in Hebrew but impossible in Aramaic. Matthew’s making the association between Jesus and his mission of ‘saving us from our sins’ points to a prophecy that may well go all the way back to his birth and even before his birth. As we ponder this insight that God comes to us to help us become more human or God like, for we are created in His image we cannot help but think of the gift of his love or grace. Grace may be more closely associated with a Pauline doctrine but Matthew certainly incorporates God’s mercy from the very beginnings of his Gospel. Note that his Gospel begins with a genealogy that is used to show that Jesus’ roots go back not just to Abraham but to David himself. Note especially the three woman mentioned Tamar, Ruth and Rahab. One seduced her father-in-law, the other a non-Israelite who would be a grandmother to David and finally Rahab who was a harlot. All of this points to God’s love for his people despite or even because of the plight they found themselves living in.
I) After the genealogy Matthew immediately goes about and describes the birth of Jesus. He tells us that although Mary was engaged to Joseph – she would live for a year during this time with her parents until the time of their marriage when she would move into Joseph’s home. If a woman was discovered during this time to have sex with another man she would be considered an adulteress and could be stoned.
II) Upon discovering that she was pregnant and it was obviously not his child, he being a righteous (merciful) man decided to divorce her quietly. He was doing this so as not to have Mary disgraced and perhaps even put to death despite the fact he most probably felt extremely wronged.
III) All is changed! An angel or messenger from God appears to Joseph in a dream telling him that the child that Mary has conceived is of the Holy Spirit. He obediently changes his mind. As an indication of his new decision he will name the child “Jesus”. Matthew goes on to tell us that another apropos name is Emmanuel or God with us. Certainly this is true of Jesus he will become the symbol of God with us throughout all our lives as the way in which God illustrates to us his great love for us in the gift of his only son. The fact that he, Joseph named the child Jesus is Joseph clearly stating that this child was not just any child in his eyes, but his own son. He was now stating clearly for all to see that this child was his no matter what the circumstances were that led to his birth. We too are invited to accept the gift of Jesus who offers us the opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness of our sins accepting his rescue from our imprisonment.