THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL
Lord, You are the Savior of the world.
Read MATTHEW 1:18–25
Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[d] (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
a Matthew 1:18 Or The origin of Jesus the Messiah was like this
b Matthew 1:19 Or was a righteous man and
c Matthew 1:21 Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the Lord saves.
d Matthew 1:23 Isaiah 7:14
New International Version (NIV)
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Joseph is a great example of someone who truly listens to the Lord and responds in obedience. What might the Lord want to say to you today?
“We are such insignificant creatures on a minor planet of a very average star in the outer suburbs of one of a hundred thousand million galaxies. So it is difficult to believe in a God that would care about us, or even notice our existence.” These well-known words of cosmologist Stephen Hawking are typical of those who imagine God – should he exist – to be a remote and passive observer of our world. The good news of the Christian faith, in contrast, is expressed in one word in today’s passage:
First, we are told of Joseph’s dilemma (18). Assuming Mary has been unfaithful, Joseph decides it would be best to divorce her quietly. Matthew, however, is very clear about the issue of conception: “she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit” (18). Joseph knew what Isaiah had prophesied some 700 years before Jesus was born: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son” (23). Second, Matthew records Joseph’s dream (20), which clearly reveals two significant issues: Jesus’ identity as “Immanuel,” God with us (v 23), and Jesus’ mission to “save his people from their sins” (21). So the story announces the essence of the Christian gospel: God with us and God saves us. Third, this leads to Joseph’s decision (24). Despite his bewilderment and uncertainty, Joseph trusted God enough to obey him. He took Mary to be his wife and they named the baby “Jesus,” just as the angel of the Lord had told them to.
Matthew 1 calls us to recognize the identity and mission of Jesus Christ: God with us and God rescues us. If we truly welcome him into our lives, asking him to make his home with us, then we will come to understand our true identity and higher purpose too.
Pray today for the many evangelistic events, carol services, and personal conversations which take place at Christmas: may the Gospel advance around the world!
Lord, it is truly a staggering thought that You would think so much of us that You would incarnate as one of us.