Thursday

“They shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’.” (v. 23)

Matthew 1:18-25 Thursday 19 March 2015

Psalm: Psalm 89:26-36


Background

Today's passage comes from the firstchapter of the New Testament. In most Bibles only a few pagesseparate Matthew's account of the life of Jesus from the OldTestament, even though it was written several hundred years later.However, in many ways Matthew is keen to stress how he is tellingnot a new story but a continuation of the same story: God's ongoingrevelation to, and love for, God's own people. Immediately beforetoday's passage, in fact, Matthew sets out how Jesus' family tree(his genealogy) included many of the famous names that weencountered in the Old Testament: Abraham, David, Hezekiah, etc (Matthew 1:1-17). The story of Joseph'sencounter with the angel also brings to mind similar stories fromthe past, such as the angel's visit to Hagar, the mother of Ishmael(Genesis 16:7-13), or to Manoah and his wife,the parents of Samson (Judges13). Matthew stresses as well that Joseph was a good andfaithful Jew, "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:19), just like those we encounteredin so many Old Testament stories. He was understandably concernedthat his wife-to-be was pregnant but, after the angel's visit, heheeded God's command and took care of Mary as he was meant todo.

Matthew also emphasises that whathappened to Joseph and Mary was part of this continuing story byexplicitly referring to a passage in Isaiah, where the people arepromised that a virgin, or young woman, will conceive as a sign ofhope for the future (Isaiah7:14). The exact interpretation of this verse and how Maryconceived has caused considerable debate over the years and manyfaithful Christians hold different views on the matter. What isperhaps more important to note is that the promise made in Isaiahand here in Matthew is the same: 'Emmanuel', which means "God withus" in Hebrew. God has always been present with people in the OldTestament in different ways. The good news for Matthew is that Godwill now be present with people as a human being: Jesus Christ.


To Ponder

  • Earlier this week the Church and country celebrated MotheringSunday. Although there is also a Father's Day it often receivesmuch less attention. How can we better honour the contribution thatfathers play in the lives of children and families?
  • How do you feel the continuing presence of God with ustoday?
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