I’m always glad when Christmas comes around, because I finally have the opportunity to sing one of my favorite hymns, and it’s only sung around Christmas. That hymn is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” It is not only my favorite Christmas Carol, but it is one of my very favorite hymns, and I’m not alone. In 1872 the Church of England selected the four greatest hymns in the English language, and “Hark the Herald Angels” was one of those hymns. I wait all year to sing this hymn, and then I find myself singing it and humming it to myself all through the season. It is a tribute to our Savior, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is one of the greatest treasures that the church has musically, and it is a treasure to the mind and soul of everyone who has memorized the incredible words to this hymn.
It was originally written in 1739 by Charles Wesley who wrote it as a Christmas day hymn. Fifteen years later, along came George Whitefield, the great preacher, great evangelist, and he felt that the words needed a little bit of editing, so he Calvinized it. And fifteen years after the original work of Wesley, Whitefield brought its lyrics into the familiar form that we sing today. It needed a tune, and the years went by, and Wesley had always said it needs a kind of a somber, slow tune. But it never really caught on with that kind of tune.
And then about a hundred years after Whitefield in the mid 1800s there was a famous German Jew who was baptized a Christian, baptized into the Christian faith. This German Jew wrote a cantata in the honor of Johannes Gutenberg who invented the printing press, and in that Cantata there was an amazing tune, and that is the tune that since about 1850 has been associated with “Hard the Herald Angels Sing,” and that German Jew who converted to Christ was Felix Mendelssohn. So when you get a song that has Wesley, Whitefield, and Mendelssohn, it’s going to be good; and it is good. It is the best.
I know you know it, but I can’t go any further really without reminding you of the words: “Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King. Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!’ Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies; with the angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!’ Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King!’
“Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ the everlasting Lord; late in time, behold Him come, offspring of the virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel. Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King!’
“Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die; born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King!’” And there are at least three other verses that are not in the hymnal. Great hymn. Just an incomparable hymn, and every verse ends with, “Glory to the newborn King!”
Wesley and Whitefield instruct us concerning the person of Jesus Christ in this hymn. He is the newborn King, but He is also identified as the Prince of Peace, the Son of Righteousness, the Everlasting Lord, the Incarnate Deity, and most of all Emmanuel, God with us. It’s an almost breath-taking Christology in this magnificent tribute.
And, by the way, this is Christianity. Christianity is that God, the Eternal Son, left heaven, came to earth as a baby born to a woman miraculously without a human father; born to save the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. That is Christianity, and that birth is how the New Testament begins. So let’s go to the beginning in the book of Matthew and the very first chapter. Over the next four weeks we’re going to look at Matthew’s account of the birth of the King.
Jesus asked the Jewish leaders about Messiah one day, recorded in Matthew 22. “He said, ‘Whose son is Messiah to be?’ And they replied immediately, ‘Son of David. Son of David.’” Royalty. They saw Him as a man born in the line of David. That is exactly what the Old Testament declared back in 2 Samuel, chapter 7. We are told that the greater son of David, the Messiah who will establish God’s kingdom will come through the royal line of David.
Whoever is the Messiah, whoever is God’s anointed king must be a descendent of David. That is why Matthew begins the way he does, verse 1: “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David.” And then you have a detailed genealogy coming all the way down to “Joseph” – in verse 16 – “the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.” The Messiah, verse 1, must be a son of David. Messiah is, in David’s line, the royal right, passing through Joseph.
Let me hasten to say this: Jesus was not related to Joseph by blood, but in Luke, chapter 1, there is a genealogy of Mary, and Mary also came from David’s line. Mary gave Jesus the royal blood, Joseph gave Him the royal right, because the royal right always came from the father.
But it’s more than just the son of David that Messiah must be. He must be the son of David. He must have the blood of the line of David coursing through His veins, and He did through Mary. He must have the right to the throne, which He received through the fact that Joseph was His legal father in the earthly sense. But He had to be more than just the son of David, He had also to be the Son of God. And that is the message that Matthew gives us, starting in verse 18. Not only was He in the line of David, but He is divine. Not just man, not just royal, but He is divine, He is the Son of God.
Verse 18: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’ And Joseph awake from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
Mary’s Son is God with us. Mary’s Son is Immanuel. We are thus introduced to the incarnate God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, this account of His birth is a very critical identifying mark that sets Him apart from any and every human being who has ever been born. He is the only one born of a virgin, conceived by God in the womb, the God-man: fully divine, fully human.
But Matthew focuses particularly on His kingship, on the royal right that He has to the throne as God’s Anointed. That’s why he gives the royal genealogy at the very beginning. And then he gives this remarkable birth that adds to His human royal line: divinity. Matthew presents to us all through his gospel Jesus as King. Let me just give you a little bit of a look at that.
First of all, Matthew shows us the King revealed. The person of Jesus Christ is always painted in royal colors. His ancestry, as we saw, is traced through a royal line. His birth is dreaded by a rival king. Wise men offer Him royal gifts. His herald, John the Baptist, declared that He is a king and that His kingdom is at hand. His temptation reaches its climax when He is justly offered the kingdoms of this entire world. His great Sermon on the Mount is the manifesto of the King, setting forth the standards of His kingdom. His miracles are His royal credentials. His parables are called the mysteries of the kingdom.
He is hailed as son of David, but also as Son of God. He claims freedom from paying tribute to earthly kings, because He Himself is the Son of the Great King, and is Himself a King. He makes a royal entry into Jerusalem where He declares Himself to be the King. And while facing the cross He predicts that He will rise again and He will establish His future reign. He proclaims sovereign power to command angels. Even His last words are a kingly claim and a royal command: “All authority has been given unto Me in heaven and earth. Go therefore.” So Matthew presents Him as royalty, as God’s Anointed King, the revealed King.
But Matthew also presents Him as the rejected King. The rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ is emphasized by Matthew all the way through. Before He was born His mother was in danger of being rejected by Joseph. At His birth, Jesus faced the possibility of death. Jerusalem was troubled by His birth. Herod sought His life. In Matthew’s account, on the plains of Bethlehem, no angel choir sings. But in Matthew’s account, mothers weep as their baby sons are slaughtered in an attempt to kill the true King.
Even as a child He is hurried away into obscurity in Egypt for awhile, and then He’s hurried back up to Nazareth, and obscure town where He stays in obscurity until He’s 30 years of age. His forerunner and cousin John the Baptist is arrested, imprisoned, and beheaded. During the time of His ministry He has no home of His own, nowhere to lay His head. He is a wanderer. His parables demonstrate the character of His kingdom age, and they are rejected by His people.
In His death, He is forsaken by His people, He is forsaken by God. In Matthew, there’s no penitent thief praying. There’s no word of human sympathy recorded by Matthew as He faces death. But Matthew does describe the reviling, the mocking, and the bribing of the soldiers to lie about His resurrection. No other gospel so chronicles the bitterness of the rejection of the King.
But, finally, Matthew’s focus is not only on the revealing of the King and the rejection of the King, but on the return of the King. No other gospel says as much about the second coming of Christ as does Matthew. It is a gospel of triumph. The King is to be revealed, He is to be rejected, but He is to return and establish His promised kingdom and reign there forever and ever. Matthew begins at the very beginning with His birth.
Just a note about the genealogy. In the genealogy you have many men listed. But tucked into the genealogy are the names of four women in the first seventeen versus of Matthew 1. Interesting women. There is Tamar, guilty of prostitution and incest. There is Rahab, a prostitute and idolatress. There is Ruth from Moab whose whole line was cursed because it descended from incest. And there is Bathsheba who was an adulterous woman, and whose husband was murdered out of that adultery. Those are the four women in the genealogy, which is a declaration by God that the King is a gracious King, and the King has come to identify with sinners.
The greatest credential for the King is not His genealogy, as wonderful as it is, it tells us in the royal line, it tells us He will be a gracious King. He will identify with sinners. But the greatest credential is His birth, and that’s what I read you in verses 18 to 25. This identifies Him as having come from heaven.
Now the facts are clear, you saw them there. Joseph and Mary were engaged, betrothed, not yet officially married, not yet having consummated that union. Joseph knew Mary was pregnant, and he knew that was not his child. We are then told the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary. And then Joseph is commanded to marry her and name the child, who is God with us, with the name Jesus. Those are the simple facts of this very understated massive divine work of the virgin conception and birth of the Son of God. Now let’s look a little more deeply.
First of all the virgin birth conceived – and we’ll look at verse 18. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” This is just such a simple explanation of a staggering, incomprehensible, divine miracle. The Bible does that a lot, simply states things that are beyond our comprehension.
We don’t know anything about Mary really. John 19:25 mentions her sister, who was also one who followed Jesus. That’s really all we know. We look at Luke 1 and we get her genealogy, so we know the name of the family behind her. We know she was related to Elizabeth, who was the wife of Zacharias the priest, and they were the parents of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. We know she lived in Nazareth, which was a town in the north of Israel up in the Galilee area, a nondescript town of which it was said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” A blue collar down, insignificant religiously, insignificant historically. That’s all we know about her in terms of biography, in terms of earthly background. We know nothing about her family, what they did.
But we do know about her character, which is what is most important, because in Luke, chapter 1, in verse 38, Mary says in response to being told by Gabriel the archangel that she’s going to be the mother of the Most Holy Child, the Son of God. She says, “Behold, the slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” This is a 13-year-old girl or so who sees herself as a slave of the Lord, a willing, loving slave of the Lord who wants only to do whatever the Lord asks her to do.
She is a worshiper. Over in verse 46, in response to this, she says, “My soul exalts the Lord, my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for He has had regard for the humble state of His slave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.” And she goes on to quote Old Testament passages in that beautiful Magnificat.
She is theologically astute. She knows God, she knows the attributes of God, she knows the Old Testament. All that she says is drawn right out of the Old Testament. She is a righteous young girl, a slave of the Lord who believes what the Lord says and wants only to do what He asks her to do. She’s a godly young girl.
Now she is, it says in verse 18, betrothed to Joseph. You have to understand Jewish marriage contracts were a little different than we have today. People get engaged and disengaged, then engaged, then disengaged, and we’ve all become pretty used to that happening. In the Jewish plan of marriage, when you were engaged or betrothed, that was a binding legal covenant. You literally bound yourself for life to the one that you had desired to marry.
You can find that back in Deuteronomy 20 in verse 7. Betrothal was a legal contract demanding, defining two people as committed to one another for life. Betrothal was a trial period. There was no consummation during betrothal. That came after the actual marriage ceremony. There were usually several months during the betrothal period.
What was that for? Well, in some ways, the husband needed to make preparations for the wedding. That would be an extensive responsibility that he would have. But even more than that, it was a trial time to see if the person that you had committed to would be faithful to that covenant. It was a time to prove your holiness, your virtue, and your righteousness. It was clearly before they came together that they had been betrothed. So they were set by covenant, by legal contract for a marriage. But this was the trial period to find out if the person would be faithful.
And, back to verse 18, before they came together, before they were actually married, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. The worst possible scenario was that a betrothed woman would become pregnant. That’s why you had the trial period to prove her integrity, her virtue. She was pregnant. She was about three months pregnant, if you calculate what the New Testament says, at this time when Joseph gets the information.
And by the way, she knew she was pregnant. How did she know? Luke 1:26, because the angel Gabriel came to her when they were back in Nazareth and said, “Behold, don’t be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God” – verse 30, 31 – “Behold, you will conceive in your womb, bear a son; you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the throne of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” He’s the King.
“Mary said, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angle answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the Holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” Nothing will be impossible with God. So she knew, she knew. But apparently she knew before Joseph knew. Maybe she was just trying to figure out how to explain that since that had never happened.
Now Joseph found out that she was pregnant. I can’t imagine the shock and devastation, because this is a virtuous girl that he knows and loves and is committed to for life, and he finds out that she is pregnant. And according to Deuteronomy 22, verses 23 and 24, if a betrothed woman became pregnant, she was to be stoned to death. So a cloud of suspicion and shame and scandal is hanging over her head, because she doesn’t know how to explain this.
There’s really no precedent for this, there’s no way to explain it. In all human history there’s never been a virgin birth. And now Joseph is in shock because he’s found out that she is pregnant, and he can’t understand it. And so in verse 19, “Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.” Righteousness is a wonderful word, It embodies holiness, virtue, morality; but it also embodies compassion. Part of being righteous is being compassionate. This is a righteous man.
You might say, “Well, if he was a righteous man, he’d make a public display out of her. A righteous man would uphold righteousness, and a righteous man would make this public and say, ‘She has been unfaithful; I want to declare her unfaithfulness. We’re going to bring her before the appropriate witnesses and we’re going to deal with thing publicly, because she needs to be a warning sign concerning this kind of sin.’” But there is inherently within true righteousness compassion and deep affection and love. He loves her, he cares for her. He doesn’t understand what has happened, he has no explanation for it, but his heart is compassionate toward her.
And so we saw the virgin birth conceived in verse 18, and now the virgin birth is confronted in verses 19 and 20. It’s confronted by Joseph. They’re betrothed. He’s a righteous man, that is he desires to do what is pleasing to God. You could even say that he has been declared righteous by faith in God in the same way that Old Testament saints had. Certainly Mary was one of them. He is a true Old Testament saint justified before God by faith. The justification of that man and even the transformation of that man’s heart is evidenced in his obedience to God, his desire to obey God, to marry a godly, virtuous woman.
And to also demonstrate compassion. Mary was precious to him, the girl of his hopes. But he had to do what was right. But he doesn’t want to disgrace her – back to verse 19 – wanting not to disgrace her. There’s no bitterness. There’s no anger. There’s no hostility. There’s no desire to make a display out of her, just confusion and compassion.
Two courses are really open to him at this point. The harshest would be to make a public example of her. And even though capital punishment as a punishment for sin had disappeared in the history of Israel, there was still the threat of a public divorce, a bill of divorce, a public lawsuit against her; and she would be brought into some kind of court, and there would be witnesses coming into the court to testify against her that she was pregnant and that Joseph was not the father.
In ancient times she would have been stoned to death. But in more recent times, during the time of their life, divorce had taken the place of stoning. He could have had a public divorce and sort of exonerated himself, but he doesn’t want to do that. “So he decided to” – it says at the end of verse 19 – “send her away secretly.”
Send away is the word apoluō. It’s the New Testament word for divorce. But not publicly, not with witnesses testifying against her to justify his action, but a very quiet, very private divorce. He wasn’t going to go through with the marriage to a woman who was unfaithful. He is devastated, he is crushed. It is all unthinkable to him, unimaginable. But he loves her, he cares for her, and so he decides that he is going to just do this very secretly.
However, verse 20 says, “When he had considered this,” – he was in the middle of considering it, meditating on it; apparently he falls asleep, mulling over in his mind what he’s going to do with this love of his life – “behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” I don’t understand the reality of that; I don’t know how to define that. It says a dream, and yet it says an angel of the Lord actually appeared to him in a dream. This is a supernatural experience, that’s all we can say, that’s all we need to know.
“An angle of the Lord appears to him in a dream and says, ‘Joseph, son of David,’ – again reiterating that he is in the royal line – ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.’”
What an unbelievably shocking dream. You know, he probably felt like most men feel, “I’m really not good enough for her.” And then he might have thought for a moment, “Maybe she’s not good enough for me.” And now he hears from an angel that God Himself has planted a life in her womb, something that has never happened to any woman. And now he goes back to saying, “If I thought I wasn’t worthy of her before, I’m sure not worthy of her now if out of all the world God has chosen her to be the mother of His incarnate Son.”
We think about people being engaged having a difficult time waiting until they’re married to display their affection. I think Joseph must have felt like he needed to stay away from her, because he was some kind of transcendent person beyond anything he could ever imagine himself to be worthy of. He is told that the child in her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity. He would know the Holy Spirit from the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit coming on people for all kinds of reasons in the Old Testament, bringing God’s power and God’s presence into a life.
This is stunning, shocking. It’s the same message that Mary heard back in Luke 1: “The child will be produced by the Holy Spirit. This will be a Holy Child. This will be the Son of God.” So Joseph is now trying to figure out just exactly, “How do I fit into that?” Little wonder then that when the angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.”
Fear was the first reaction of Joseph. “Stop being afraid. You can take her as your wife. She is not so transcendent, she is not so holy, she is not elevated that she cannot be your wife. What has been conceived in her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.”
Verse 21: “She will bear a Son; and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” She will bear a Son. It doesn’t say, “She will bear you a son.” Never says that.
In Luke 1:13, the Lord said to Zacharias, “Elizabeth will bear you a son, because you are a participating father.” That is never said to Joseph. It’s just, “She will bear a Son.” This is Mary’s Son and this is God’s Son. This is not Joseph’s Son.
By the way, throughout the 2nd chapter of Matthew, Mary is identified as His mother and Joseph is never stated as His father, never. “Arise, take the young Child and His mother and flee into Egypt. Take your Child. Arise, take the young Child and His mother, go into the Land of Israel.”
This is not Joseph’s Son; this is God’s Son, this is Mary’s Son. In fact, in the 2nd chapter of Matthew, God says, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.” Jesus was God’s Son and Mary’s Son, never Joseph’s Son.
The mystery of all of this is profound and confounding, and when it says down in verse 25 that he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son, I can fully understand that, that he wouldn’t want to do anything to touch her. It was not legal to do that anyway, just because they hadn’t had the marriage ceremony. But I think it would have been hard to imagine himself even putting a hand on such a set apart and anointed life chosen by God for such singular calling.
But Joseph, you do have a role to play. Father gives the name, so verse 21, “You shall call His name Jesus Yeshua” – Old Testament Joshua – “for He will have His people from their sins.” Yeshua means Jehovah saves, Jehovah saves. That’s His name, Jesus, Jehovah saves, for He will save His people from their sins.”
There are a lot of names that are given to Jesus in the Old Testament, you’re familiar with them: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity – Isaiah 9, Servant of Jehovah, Yahweh – lots of names of Jesus. But here is a new name. His name is to be Yeshua, Jehovah saves. That’s remarkable.
Back in the 43rd chapter of Isaiah, God claims some singular characteristics. He says, verse 11, “I, even I, am the Lord,” and yet in the New Testament Jesus is declared Lord. God says in the same verse, “There is no Savior besides Me,” and yet Jesus is to be named Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. God is a Savior; Jesus is a Savior.
In that same chapter, verse 13, God says, “Even from eternity I am He.” John 1:1 says that Jesus was in eternity with the Father. Verse 14 says, “The Lord is your Redeemer.” In the New Testament, Jesus is the Redeemer. The Lord is the Holy One; in the New Testament, Jesus is the Holy Child. Things that God declares for Himself alone are also declared of Christ, which is to say that He is therefore God.
Chapter 42 of Isaiah, verse 8, “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another.” That’s true. But He gives His glory to Christ, because glory to Christ is not giving glory to another. Christ is one with God.
So He is the Savior. He’s the only Savior; He’s the Savior of the world. There is no other Savior, it is God and God alone who saves His people, and He does it through the work of His Son Jesus. “There’s no salvation in any other” – Acts 4:12. Who is able to save? Who is mighty to save? Only the virgin-born God-man, Son of David, Son of Mary.
And then in verses 22 and 23 you have the virgin birth connected, connected. We saw it conceived and confronted, clarified in regard to the name as the message came to Joseph. But here it’s connected, and it’s connected to an Old Testament prophecy: “Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’” That is a direct quote from Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 7:14.
Here Matthew shows us that the virgin birth was promised, was promised. And if you go back to Isaiah 7:14 that’s exactly what you read with the addition of just an opening statement: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and will call His name Immanuel. The Lord will give you a sign.”
The word here “virgin” in verse 23 is parthenos in Greek, and it always means virgin and only means virgin. It’s used about 12 or 13 times in the New Testament. It always and only means virgin.
The text of Isaiah 700 years before uses the word almah, and some people say, “Well, almah can mean a young girl. A young girl doesn’t have to mean a virgin.” Although it is used nine times in the Old Testament, eight of them, it has to mean a virgin. One time it may be just a reference to a young girl. But clearly the intent of almah in Isaiah 7:14 is to be used at virgin, because that’s what the Holy Spirit inspires Matthew to write. The New Testament writer under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is interpreting the word almah in the Old Testament as parthenos in the New, which is virgin. And that’s the only thing that makes sense.
Critics like to say, “Well, no, Isaiah 7:14 should simply be stated, ‘A young woman will be with child and bear a son.’” There’s something missing in that. And what is it? The opening statement: “The Lord Himself will show you a sign.”
If I say to you, “A young woman is going to become pregnant and have a son,” what sign in that? That’s not a sign of anything, that happens every day. That’s not a sign of anything. But a virgin becoming pregnant and bearing a son, that’s a sign. That’s the sign of Isaiah 7:14. “Look for a miracle. Look for a virgin becoming pregnant and bearing a son.” Even from the scientific standpoint, critics love to tamper with this, and some have suggested that Mary had a sort of spontaneous generation, a kind of parthenogenesis on her own and produced Jesus on her own without God intervening, that there is a scientific natural explanation to this.
And if you read any science, any of that – I’m reading a big long book on the history of genes; and in studying that, it’s fascinating to say that you can go back into history in the nineteenth century, and even back before that, and people were trying to reproduce life. There were all kinds of very fine insects, and there were sea urchins, and they were trying to see if they could generate without the normal male-female coming together. And there had been some indications in history where this could happen, and then there was Pincus and his rabbits, and there’s some machinations done with animals like that.
But the problem is this: even in those cases where you have that, you have a problem. Mary, if she spontaneously generated Jesus, could only have a daughter, because there’s no Y chromosome. Y chromosome comes from the man. That’s what’s so important about, “She will bear a son, she will bear a son.”
And this son will be the one prophesized in Isaiah 7:14, “And the sign will be that she will be a virgin bearing a son, and you shall call His name Immanuel, which translates into God with us. She will have the Son of God.”
You know, the rabbis kind of hovered around this notion that Messiah would have a unique birth. They said Messiah may not have an earthly father. Some rabbis said Messiah will be born without defect. One rabbi said Messiah’s birth will not be like the birth of other men. One other rabbi, one other rabbi said that Messiah’s birth will be like the dew of the Lord as drops on the grass without the action of man. The book of Enoch 150 years before Christ says, “Of the Messiah, He appears by the side of the Ancient of Days.” In other words, they even seem to acknowledge Messiah’s pre-incarnate existence.
But they really didn’t understand it and they rejected, they rejected Him. “He came to His own, His own received Him not.” But the prophecy was fulfilled. The coming of the King, the virgin-born Son of God, son of David, fulfills the sign prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Galatians 4:4, Paul puts it this way: “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman,” – born of a woman, but the Son of God.
A final word, the virgin birth completed in the last two verses: “Joseph awoke from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, took Mary as his wife.” They had the wedding ceremony. Kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” He got the message, believed it, and named her Son, Yeshua, Jehovah saves, because He came to save His people from their sins.
He kept her a virgin, by the way, until she gave birth to a Son, which means that He didn’t keep her a virgin after that, and that’s clear in the New Testament, because Jesus had brothers and sisters born to Joseph and Mary, and they’re named and referred to. She was not a perpetual virgin, and she was not immaculately conceived without sin. Those are fantasies of the Roman Catholic system. She had many other children, but not until after Jesus was born did Joseph come near her. So that’s the story. That’s the story from Matthew.
Paul looks at that same story in these words: “He, the Lord Jesus Christ, existed in the form of God. Did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave and being made in the likeness of men, being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him, bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, those in heaven and earth, under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
The supernatural birth of Jesus is the only way you can account for His life. An unbeliever once said to a Christian, “If I told you that a child had been born without a father, would you believe it?” The Christian answered, “Yes, if he lived as Jesus lived.”
The King is revealed. His birth proves who He is. In Christ, God came to dwell with us – with the sick, to heal them; with the demonized, to liberate them; with the poor in spirit, to bless them; with the meek, to lift them up to His kingdom; with the fearful and guilty, to free them from care and dread; with the lepers, to cleanse them; with the diseased, to cure them; with the hungry, to feed them; but most of all, with the lost, to seek and save them. Through His poverty we are made rich. The King is born. Next week, we’re going to see who and why the wise men were.
Father, thank You again this morning for an incredibly wonderful, rich time in fellowship and beautiful music and worship. Fill our hearts with joy and thanksgiving through this season as we contemplate the wonderful gift of Jesus Christ who came to save His people from their sins. We are His people by grace, through faith, and we rejoice. May that joy be unbounded and demonstrate itself in our faithfulness to You, we pray in His name. Amen.