Advent is when we proclaim the gospel. What we proclaim is that Jesus is born, and this Jesus is the Messiah, the King. We proclaim, in other words, the King Jesus gospel at Christmas. Yesterday we pondered briefly the genealogy of Matthew, and today we look at Matthew 1:18-25 (text after the jump). What do we see here for Christmas?
First, Matthew tells up front that this Jesus is the Messiah, the word for King, and this very title evokes a long history now finally coming to fulfillment. Joseph is a Son of David, and this secures Jesus’ location — through adoption — in the Davidic lineage.
Second, Matthew tells us that God acted strangely: he chose a virgin who was impregnated supernaturally, with her engaged husband idly watching it all happen, and this conception was through the Holy Spirit. Joseph resisted because he was faithful to the Torah — and the strangeness gets deeper: now Mary has gained a reputation and Joseph has lost his.
Third, the Christmas gospel tells us more: this Messiah, this child as the result of a strange act by God, will save Israel from its sins. I’m of the view that this saving act is not simply personal, though it is that. It’s about the saving of a people by ending its exile. Jesus will liberate the people of God, and the one who told this story was Simeon in Luke 2.
Fourth, all of this is accordance with Scripture: the Christmas gospel then is the Story of Israel coming to its fulfillment in Jesus, in the big picture (Savior) and small picture (virginal conception).
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: 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 yetdid 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, 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” (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.