The name “Jesus” means “the Lord is our salvation” and the name “Immanuel” means “God with us.” Both of these names for our Lord are given in today’s passage from Matthew’s account of the Christmas story. We saw in the last post in verses 1-17 that Jesus is called the “Christ” or “Anointed One” because He is the Messiah, the Promised King of Israel who will one day rule over this whole world with perfect justice and righteousness. Now we are shown the other important parts of Jesus’ mission on earth. He came to save us from our sins, and He saved us by becoming one of us, still fully God yet now also fully human, too. The high King of heaven is not a cold and distant ruler. No, King Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to temporarily set aside the glories of heaven to be born a man and go through all the hardships of life that we face in this sin-cursed world. He is a personal God who comes to be with every one of His disciples. He does this by putting His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, inside every Christian when they come to believe and trust in Jesus for salvation.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
Questions to Think About
1. Have you thanked God recently for saving you from your sins? It is certainly not healthy to constantly walk around thinking about sins that we have already confessed (admitted to God) and repented of (turned away from). However, whenever we read a verse like Matthew 1:21 – “He will save His people from their sins” – it can be good for our souls to take a moment to thank God again for rescuing us from the punishment and power that sin once held over us. The more that we hate our sin, the more that we love Jesus for dying to save us from it.
2. As a Christian, how can remembering God is with you help you in your life today? In what ways do you need this great encouragement from verse 23?
• Matthew makes it very clear that this baby born to Mary and Joseph was not just a prophet or teacher, but God among us. An angel announces that Jesus’ conception is “of the Holy Spirit,” meaning that Joseph was not His physical father. Matthew then tells us that Jesus’ conception fulfilled a prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 that a virgin, or woman who had not yet been with a man, would have a child. Jesus’ birth fulfilled this prophecy because Mary was engaged to Joseph but they were not yet living together as man and wife when she became pregnant with Jesus.
• The engagement between Joseph and Mary was much stronger than engagements in our culture today. In Jesus’ time, a man and woman spent a year as being legally married in almost every way except not yet living together as man and wife. To break an engagement was a very serious matter because it basically required a divorce. If adultery was suspected on the part of the woman, the man could have his wife stoned to death. This is why the angel comes to Joseph, a just man who would have quietly broken the engagement, and warns him not to divorce Mary after she becomes pregnant.