Matthewby Mike Raiter
Sadly, many in today's world take the making of promises too lightly. In reality, it is a serious thing. This account of the birth of Jesus shows God keeping a mighty promise.
We meet here the young couple, Joseph and Mary. They have recently become engaged, and in ancient Israel that was as legally binding as marriage. Therefore, on discovering Mary is pregnant (Joseph does not yet know it is by the Holy Spirit), Jewish, Greek, and Roman law all demand that he publicly divorce her. However, Joseph resolves to do it as discreetly as possible (v. 19). He wants to minimise any scandal and protect her reputation. Joseph is a righteous man, which means he understands that grace and mercy are more important than strict adherence to the law.
Then Matthew tells us who this child really is. Shortly after King Ahaz ascended the throne in 735 BC, God promised that He would protect Judah, which was being threatened by her godless neighbours, and He would give her a sign: a virgin would have a baby boy and she would call him Immanuel. This name would be a reminder that God would be with His people and save them (Isaiah 7:14).
Now we fast forward 730 years and a baby is born. But this child really was ″God with us″. ″Immanuel″ was not just a name; in this child God physically came among us.
By His Spirit, Jesus is still with us. Now, wherever we go, God will be with us. Whatever happens, God will be with us. But Jesus will not just be with us here and now, He will also be with us on the day when we will need Him most.This child was not just Immanuel; He was ″Jesus″, which means ″he will save his people from their sins″ (v. 21). Everyone will have to stand before God the righteous judge one day (Hebrews 9:27). We need someone who will be with us and say to our heavenly Father, ″I have paid the price for their sins. I stand with them.″ Jesus, Immanuel, will turn to us and say, ″Today you will be with me in paradise.″ God with us forever!
Read Matthew 28:20. Just before He left for heaven, what did Jesus tell His disciples? Are there times in your life when you have been very conscious of God being with you?
We don't learn much about Joseph in the Gospels, but verse 19 tells us he was a very godly man. What can you learn about his character from this passage? What can you learn from how he treats Mary?