Tuesday

‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him "Emmanuel’ which means “God is with us.”’ (v. 23)

Matthew 1:18-24 Tuesday 14 December 2021

Psalm 61

Background

Matthew tells the story of the birth of Jesus the Messiah from the point of view of Joseph. He puts the spotlight on how Joseph said ‘yes’ to the unfolding events and ‘yes’ to  God’s ways, even though they seemed strange.

Joseph was called by God not to block God’s new initiative. We know very little about Joseph. He was a carpenter, who could trace his ancestry back to King David and he was betrothed to Mary in a small community where everyone knew everyone else. We can imagine his high hopes for a new beginning with his new wife and his devastation to learn of her pregnancy and the weird reason given.

What should he do in such a situation? He could have taken the moral high ground and publicly denounced her. Under Jewish law a person could be stoned for adultery. However, Joseph decided to end the relationship quietly. He was a decent man. He then had a strange dream in which an angel of the Lord confirmed Mary’s story, telling him to marry Mary (without fear) and name the child Jesus. The child would grow up to save the people from their sins.

The gospel writer Matthew quoted from the prophet Isaiah in the Hebrew Scriptures to explain to his predominantly Jewish audience that Mary’s strange story was in fulfilment of a prophecy. Isaiah had said a virgin would conceive and bear a son, to be called ‘Emmanuel’ which means ‘God with us’. (Isaiah 7:14)

A powerful indication of Jesus' significance is, that he is ‘Emmanuel’, ‘God with us'. John Wesley on his death bed famously said: "The best of all is, God is with us." Jesus manifests God-in-human form. And Jesus manifests God’s total and utter love for us, through and through and through. God's love is ours, if, like Joseph, we have the courage to say 'yes'.

To Ponder:

  • If you had been in Joseph’s shoes, what concerns might you have had about saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Imagine the inner dialogue as you weighed up your decision.
  • Have you ever had a significant dream that affected a decision you made or that revealed something to you?
  • Have you ever been called on by God not to block a strange God initiative? Share the story.
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