A Journey Through the Book of Matthew
Matthew 1:20, 21
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.”
Joseph, a just man being upright and a keeper of God’s law was faced with a difficult decision. Mary, a young woman from Nazareth was betrothed to Joseph. Yet she was found to be with child. And as we saw in our last post, there was more than one way for Joseph to deal with this situation. It would appear he had decided not to marry her.
Now as Joseph slept, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. Luke tells us two other times that an angel of the Lord came to visit with first Zacharias (Luke 1:11, 19) and then to Mary (Luke 1:19). With both Mary and Zacharias, it is stated that the Angel came visibly appeared to them. With Joseph, the Angel came to him in a dream.
Why the difference. Mary and Zacharias were given good news. Zacharias that a son would be born who would be the cousin of Mary’s baby. Zacharias and his wife were old, past the age of giving birth so the angel would be more likely to appear to give legitimacy to the message.
The same with Mary. She had no idea she would have been chosen to become the mother of Jesus. So the message given by the angel had more meaning coming from the visible angel.
Although each Jewish girl as she grew up would ask herself the same question, “Is it I that will deliver the promised messiah to our people. To Mary the answer was given, it is you Mary that the Holy Spirit will come unto you and you shall conceive and bring froth a child and you shall call his name Immanuel. Meaning God with us.
As Joseph slept the angel gave him the promise that he should name this child Jesus. Jesus a name that meant, Jehovah is salvation. The original Greek comes across as saying. “For He it is who shall save.”
The angel encouraged Joseph to marry and to not waste time and do not question Mary’s virtue. As a just man the angel reassured Joseph that taking Mary he would not forfeit righteousness. In fact for Joseph it became an act of faith that God required of Joseph.
He shall save. What a promise was given to Joseph and Mary. Jesus was to be the savior of the world. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree, God had promised them in verse 15 of Genesis 3. I will put enmity between you (the devil, Satan, that old serpent) and the woman, (God people) and between your seed and her seed: He (Jesus) shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His (Jesus’ death on the cross) heal.
He was sent to save us from sin. Sin that bound men (Romans 6:16; II Peter 2:19) in its prison house (Isaiah 42:7). Christ came that He might loose the bonds, open the prison door, and deliver the captives from the sentence of death (Isaiah 61:1; Romans 7:24, 25; Hebrews 2:15). He came to save us from our sins, not in our sins. He came, not only to save us from sins actually committed, but from our potential tendencies that head to sin (Romans 7:35-25; I John 1:7, 9). He came to redeem us from “all iniquity” (Titus 2:14), including every hereditary and cultivated tendency to evil.
Christ did not come to save His people from the power of Rome, as the Jews fondly hoped. But from the power of a far more formidable foe. He did not come to “restore again the kingdom of Israel” (Acts 1:6), but to restore the dominion of God in the hearts of men (Luke 17:20, 21). Christ did not come primarily to save men from poverty and social injustice (Luke 12:13-15) as many apostles of the social gospel claim today, but from sin, and fundamental cause of poverty and injustice.
All this was done for you and me. Why? Because God created us and he loves us. He wants to redeem us unto himself. He wants to restore us.
One final little point. The angel says to Joseph, Thou son of David. Matthew is helping us to realize that Jesus is of Royal lineage.
Thank you for reading this blog. I hope you will continue to be blessed in the reading of God’s Word.