The Scriptorium

Born to Save

It's why He came. Matthew 1.18-21

Matthew 1: Immanuel (5)

Pray Psalm 85.1-3.
LORD, You have been favorable to Your land;
You have brought back the captivity of Jacob.
You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people;
You have covered all their sin.
Selah
You have taken away all Your wrath;
You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.

Sing gratefully Psalm 85.1-3.
(Lyons: O, Worship the King)
O Lord, You Your favor showed to Your land;
Your people You saved by Your mighty hand.
Their sins You forgave, all Your wrath You withdrew.
You turned back the anger which to them was due.

Read Matthew 1.18-21.

Prepare.
1. Why was Joseph described as “just”?

2. Mary “was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” What does that mean?

Meditate.

Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus begins at Abraham and, through his descendants and those of David, recapitulates most of the Old Testament, depositing that unfinished story in a manger in Bethlehem.

But just to make sure we understand that all the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus, Matthew began his account in a way reminiscent of how the Bible itself begins: God spoke to a man, gave him a woman, and a child was born to them. The story of Adam, Eve, and Abel is reenacted in the birth of Jesus. Only He is not Abel, but the promised Seed of the woman who, though wounded, would utterly destroy the enemy of God’s people (Gen. 3.15).

Mary and Joseph were betrothed, that is, engaged to be married, and thus committed to one another. When Mary was found to be with child (albeit by the Holy Spirit), Joseph moved to divorce her (vv. 18, 19). In this he was only doing what the Law of God provides, though wanting to spare her the public disgrace and punishment indicated (cf. Deut. 22.23, 24).

But notice the wisdom of Joseph, a most careful, just, and circumspect man. He did not immediately act on his thinking, but waited, undoubtedly hoping for some confirmation from the Lord that divorce was the right course (v. 20). We notice further that, as God gave Adam a wife while he slept (Gen. 2.21-23), so, in an analogous way, He gave Joseph a wife while he slept. God used an angel to communicate His will to Joseph, and this itself reminds us of how often God spoke to His Old Testament saints through an angel. The angel confirmed what Mary may have told Joseph; or perhaps this was the first time the truth of the situation was presented. We don’t know. What we do know is that the Holy Spirit accomplished a work of conception in Mary. A Son was promised, and He was to be named Jesus, which means “salvation”. That’s all Joseph needed to know.

Jesus Christ does not merely make salvation possible. He accomplishes salvation. Salvation is a done deal because of Jesus. As the Old Testament Jesus – Joshua – led Israel into the land of promise, this Jesus would do the same by becoming the promises of God’s covenant and fulfilling everything necessary to accomplish salvation (2 Cor. 1.20).

But for whom? For His people, those whose names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, those who have been chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1.4). Those who receive Jesus as the Christ, the One Who fulfills God’s covenant, the Savior of the world.

Reflect.
1. What can we learn from Joseph about making difficult decisions?  

2. Names matter, as the angel explained to Joseph. What did Miriam (Hebrew for Mary) do when Israel was delivered (cf. Ex. 15.20, 21)? What did Mary (Miriam) do when she learned salvation was to be accomplished through her Child (Lk. 1.46-55)? Is this just coincidence?

3. Matthew 1.18-21 adds detail to Matthew 1.16, just as Genesis 2 adds detail to Genesis 1.26-28. Why does this matter?

Shame on those who attempt to pry into the miracle of generation from on high! For this birth can by no means be explained, yet it has witnesses beyond number and has been proclaimed from ancient times as a real birth handled with human hands. What kind of extreme madness afflicts those who busy themselves by curiously prying into the unutterable generation? For neither Gabriel nor Matthew was able to say anything more, but only that the generation was from the Spirit. But how from the Spirit? In what manner? Neither Gabriel nor Matthew has explained, nor is it possible.
John Chrysostom (344-407), Gospel of Matthew 4.3

Your Spirit, Who brought life to Mary, has given me life in Jesus as well. Help me to live for Jesus today as I…

Pray Psalm 85.4-13.
The salvation Jesus has won for us is unto mercy, truth, righteousness, peace, and abounding good works. Pray that God will prepare and use you for these today.

Sing Psalm 85.4-13.
Psalm 85.4-13 (Lyons: O, Worship the King)
Restore us, O God, renew us in peace,
and cause all Your wrath against us to cease.
Will You evermore all Your wrath to us show?
Revive us that we may Your joy again know.

Lord, show us Your love; restore us, we pray!
And help us to hear the words that You say.
Speak peace to Your people; in truth let us stand.
We fear You; let glory and grace fill our land.

In Jesus God’s grace and truth are combined.
Both goodness and peace in Him do we find.
Truth springs from the earth as He walks in our midst,
and righteousness flows from the heav’ns as a gift.

The Lord by His grace will give what is good.
Our land will produce abundance of food.
And righteousness will go before the Lord’s face,
and make of His footsteps a way in this place.

T. M. Moore

The Gospel of Matthew will help us grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Two companion books can supplement our study of Matthew. To Know Him examines what it means to belong to Jesus and to love and serve Him (click here), while Be Thou My Vision enables us to gain an even larger perspective on Jesus (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore