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The Birth of Jesus the Messiah - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Matthew 1:18-25

  • 2014-12-28 AM
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Well, it was a joy this past week for all of us to celebrate our Lord's birth. Together with, in many cases, with family and with friends in order to remember the incarnation, really to celebrate the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. It's ironic, isn't it, that our entire culture for the most part celebrated Christmas celebrated the virgin birth of Christ, and yet there are many people around us who struggle greatly with the idea that a virgin conceived a child in her womb. But it really shouldn't bother you, unless you're an atheist who rejects the supernatural altogether; Or a deist who doesn't believe God interacts and intervenes in the world He made. Shouldn't bother you at all.

If you're a theist then you believe there is a God, you believe that He can at His choosing intersect Himself into the world. And that He spoke all of the things that we know and see into existence. Surely a God like that would have no trouble with a virgin birth. It was Anselm a thousand years ago almost who reminded us that in the Scripture God produced human beings five different ways. Think about this for a moment.

First of all, He produced a human being by using a man and a woman. That of course is the ordinary way that God produces human beings, and it's how all of us came to be here.

Secondly, in Scripture God produced a human being without either a man or a woman. Who is that? Adam.

Thirdly, He produced a human being using a man without a woman. And of course, that's Eve, who was taken from the side of man.

Fourthly, when you look at the Scripture you can see that God miraculously enabled both a man and a woman past child-bearing age to conceive and bear children. And there are a number of examples of that, but the two most notable of course are Abraham and Sarah, and Zacharias and Elizabeth the parents of John the Baptist.

And the fifth way that God produces a human being in the Scripture is using a woman without a man, and that of course is our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, we're examining the reality of Jesus' conception and birth, and we're doing it this Christmas from Matthew's account. Matthew's account, unlike Luke who focuses on the birth of Christ from Mary's perspective, Matthew focuses on the birth of Christ from Joseph's perspective. I mentioned to you last week that Matthew wrote his gospel with a specific purpose in mind, and that purpose was to show that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah and Israel's rightful king.

Now to prove that Matthew had to show that Jesus was in the line of Israel's kings. So, he first sets out to establish Jesus' pedigree, and therefore, he begins with His genealogy to show that He was, in fact, in the royal line of kings. He was descended from Abraham through David and Solomon. Now, after the genealogy and after the pedigree's established, Matthew then records for us the events surrounding Jesus' conception and birth. And those events too were unique. In fact, the events surrounding Jesus' birth and conception provide us with a remarkable insight into exactly who He was and is. Let's read together Matthew 1. You follow along. I'll begin reading in verse 18,

Now, the birth of Jesus [Messiah] 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 CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke 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.

In this paragraph Matthew highlights for us five unique characteristics that are seen in the birth and conception of Jesus of Nazareth that show His qualifications to be in fact the Messiah. So, we're looking at these characteristics together. Last week we examined just the first of them, His unique conception. We looked at verses 18 - 20 and saw how, in fact, through a miraculous work of the Spirit of God a creative work, an act of creation, He created within the womb of the virgin Mary the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We examined not only this text but the biblical evidence, and in the end, we came to the same conclusion as Jay Gresham Machen in his famous work on the virgin birth when he wrote,

It is perfectly clear that the New Testament teaches the virgin birth of Christ. About that there can be no manner of doubt. There is no serious question as to the interpretation of the Bible at this point.

That is why evangelical theologians and Bible scholars throughout the history of the church have always agreed that the virgin birth or more accurately the virgin conception was a literal event as described by the authors of the Scripture and that the virgin birth is essential to the Christian faith. His was a unique conception. He was miraculously created within the womb of the virgin, Mary.

Now, today we come to a second defining characteristic that is seen in this child's birth, and it's His unique mission. His unique mission. Look at verse 21, "She will bear a Son and you shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins." The angel, although he's not named here, probably it's Gabriel since Gabriel was the one involved in the announcement to Zacharias of the birth of John the Baptist also the one involved in the annunciation to Mary of the birth of Jesus. The angel tells Joseph that Mary is going to have a baby boy.

And then he says something very unusual. He tells them that they, Mary and Joseph, would not have the right to name this child whatever they chose to name Him. Instead, God Himself was going to give Him a name. Joseph was to name Him Jesus. Now as you know the name Jesus is simply the Greek form of the Old Testament name, Joshua, or Yeshua or the longer form Yehoshua. In both Hebrew and Greek, it means the same thing.

If you go back to the Hebrew name Joshua, or Yeshua, and you take it apart, it's composed of two Hebrew words put together. The first Hebrew word is God's personal name, Yahweh. And the second Hebrew word is "saves" or "rescues". So, Joshua, Yeshua, Yehoshua or Jesus all mean the same thing: Yahweh saves, or Yahweh is salvation. The angel says, God has sent this boy to accomplish salvation. This is what later the angels would announce to the shepherds at His birth in Luke 2:11 when they said, "Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is [Messiah], the Lord."

Now I think sometimes we use these words, save and salvation, so much that we lose something of the significance of their meaning. You understand, I think, that save and salvation are used in Scripture to depict rescue or deliverance from a broad range of evils. For example, the word group is often used of rescuing someone from physical danger. Often in the Old Testament God sent a human savior or deliverer to rescue His people from their physical circumstances.

If you've read the book of Judges, you understand that all of the judges were deliverers or saviors who came to rescue God's people from the military oppression of the nations around them. But this child wasn't to be named Jesus because He would accomplish some kind of physical rescue from their enemies, but the angel specifically identifies what this child would save from. Notice verse 21, "... call His name [Yahweh saves] for He will save His people from their sins." That is a remarkable and theologically rich statement. One of the most profound statements in all of the New Testament. Let me make several observations for you about the end of verse 21. Here's what we ought to see in that expression.

First of all, it's making the point that Jesus is the only spiritual Rescuer. Jesus is the only spiritual Rescuer. You can see this in English "... He will save His people from their sins" but in the Greek text it's even stronger. Let me translate it for you as it literally reads in the Greek text. "He Himself will save His people from their sins." Reflexive pronoun is added to bring emphasis. He Himself will save His people from their sins. He is the only Rescuer.

There's a second observation we can make from verse 21 and that is: that the name Jesus hints that this child is more than just human. He is human. He's going to be born of a virgin. He's going to be born into the world as a human being, but He's more than that. You see from the time of Joshua 1400 years before Jesus was born, many Jewish boys had been named Yehoshua or Yeshua the shortened form or even Jesus in Greek times. This was a way to remember for the Jewish people to remember all that God had done in the Exodus. It was a way for them to remember how God had used the great general, Joshua, in order to conquer the land and to divide it among His people. It was a way for them to remember that Yahweh saves. But this child was to be named Jesus for a different reason. It was because He Himself would save His people from their sins. Now think about the juxtaposition of those two ideas for a moment. The angel says name the boy "Yahweh saves" because He Himself will save His people from their sins. Do you see the contrast and the juxtaposition?

In other words, this child will possess divine prerogatives. Yahweh saves; He, this boy, will save. It hints that this child can do what only God can do. As Jesus Himself would later claim in Matthew's gospel _9:6, "The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." Something only God can do. So, even buried within His name and the reason for His name is a hint of His deity. Yahweh saves, this boy will save.

There's a third observation we can see in verse 21 and that is: this child possesses as His own a unique group of people. Notice what the angel says, "... He will save His people ..." Now, I know initially you're tempted to think (when you see that expression) that he's talking about the Jews, the Jewish nation. And of course, there are Jews involved in this but this, His people, this expression doesn't mean all the Jews because all the Jews were not going to be saved by this boy. Nor does it mean just the Jews because as Matthew's gospel unfolds, he makes it clear who these people are that are His people. In 16:18 Jesus speaks of "My church". "I will build My church...." My assembly. My people. And of course, as you come to the end of Matthew's gospel you discover that that group of people who are His church reaches far beyond the first century and far beyond the boundaries of Israel. He says go into all the nations and make disciples, and do this till the end of the age. So, Jesus' people are all of those who belong to Him in every place and in every age, all who become His disciples. So, Jesus has a people who belong to Him.

There's a fourth observation we can make from verse 21 and that is: this boy will rescue His people from their sins. Now that is extraordinary. On behalf of His people those who do or who will belong to Him, He will completely address their sin problem. And He did. That's the miracle of redemption that comes in Jesus Christ. Now, again that expression, "He will save His people from their sins" is so familiar that I think we lose the richness and the profound theology that's contained within it. What does that mean? He will save His people from their sins. He will rescue them from their sins. Well, let's see if we can go a little deeper here. What Scripture primarily means when it speaks of Jesus saving His people from their sins is four realities.

First of all, in His life, Jesus perfectly kept God's law against sin for His people. In His life, Jesus perfectly obeyed God's law which was against sin on behalf of His people. There are a number of places where this point is made. We will eventually get to Romans 5 and in Romans 5:19 it's put this way by the apostle Paul. "... through one's man disobedience ..." meaning Adam's disobedience "... the many were made sinners...." Doesn't mean just some people were made sinners it means everyone for whom Adam was a representative meaning ever human being. Through His disobedience every human being was made a sinner. "... Even so through the obedience of the One...." meaning the obedience of Christ and we'll learn when we get there this isn't just talking about His obedience in dying on the cross. This is an entire life of obedience. "... through the obedience of the One the many ..." those who He represents "... will be made righteous." Listen, He lived, Christian, the life you should have lived. And He lived it in your place, and He can present that perfect life of obedience to God. For you. Jesus perfectly kept God's law against sin for His people.

There's a second thing it means when we speak of Jesus rescuing His people from their sins. It means that in His death Jesus fully paid the legal guilt of sin for His people. You know we use the word guilt a lot to speak of a subjective feeling. I feel guilty. That's not the biblical idea behind guilt. Instead, it is an objective legal reality. It is a legal guilt that I have before the law of God, before God the Judge. I have broken His law. Jesus fully paid the legal guilt of sin for His people. This is put so beautifully in Isaiah's prophecy. Turn to Isaiah 53. This is the clearest passage on the atonement in the Old Testament as Isaiah talks about the Suffering Servant, the Messiah Who would come. I love the way he describes how He would accomplish our salvation.

Verse 5, Isaiah 53:5, As Israel in the future, redeemed Israel looks back and considers what Jesus did, this is what they will say. [Tom's paraphrase]: He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed by God for our iniquities; The chastening for our shalom, for our well-being, our peace, fell upon Him and by His scourging we are spiritually healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray that is, gone astray from God and His ways and His Word each of us individually has turned to his own way. That's the essence of sin. But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all literally to strike Him.

Look at the second half of verse 8, "He [the Messiah] was cut off out of the land of the living ..." He died "... for the transgression of my people for whom the stroke was due." In verse 10 Jesus is described as rendering Himself as a guilt offering. There's that word guilt; not as a subjective feeling but as an objective legal reality. He offered Himself as a sacrifice to deal with my legal guilt before the law. This is what the New Testament says again and again about the death of Christ. In Matthew 20:28, Jesus refers to Himself and says, the Son of Man came to give His life as a ransom in the place of many. First Peter 2:24 Peter writes, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross."

If you're a Christian, I want you to think for just a moment about the low points in your life. The sins that still haunt you because you sinned those sins and committed them. Then I want you to think about the everyday sins; the sins you committed this last week. Every sinful thought, every sinful word spoken out of your mouth, every wicked act. Peter says that when Jesus died, "He bore our sins in His body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness for by His wounds you were healed." First Peter 3:18, "Christ also died for sins once for all. The just for the unjust. So that He might bring us to God." This is what Jesus accomplished. He fully paid the legal guilt of sin for His people. And by doing that, listen carefully, by doing that Jesus rescues us from the coming wrath of God against our sin. Romans 5:9 "... we will be saved from the wrath of God through Him." Jesus fully paid the legal guilt of sin.

Number 3, in His death and resurrection Jesus finally ended the enslaving power of sin for His people. He ended the enslaving power of sin for His people. Romans 6:6, our old self was crucified when Jesus died. The old person we used to be died with Him in order that our body of sin might be done away with so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. Listen, Christian, you can choose to be enslaved to a sin. Christians can be but you don't have to be. The power of sin has been broken in your life. You don't have to live in slavery. You will still sin. We all sin until Christ makes us perfect. But you don't have to live in slavery to sin. Jesus saved us from our sins. He ended the enslaving power of sin for His people.

And number 4 in His resurrection, ascension and second coming Jesus totally eliminated, I love this, the future ability to sin for His people. You understand that there's coming a day when you will not be able to sin? First John 3:2, "Beloved now we are children of God..." Right now, you're a child of God if you're in Christ. But "... it has not appeared as yet what we will be." We have not yet fully realized all that we will be. So, what are we waiting for? "We know that when He appears we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is."

Just as the glorified Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, the perfect Man cannot sin, you and I will one day be in His presence unable to sin. He has saved us from our sins. If you have repented of your sins, if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, then those statements that we have just covered describe how Jesus has already rescued you from your sins. And if you've never acknowledged Jesus as your Lord, you can do that today. You can give up your rebellion, you can turn from, as Isaiah calls it, "your own way" and submit yourself to Him and in a moment's time all that He accomplished, all that we've just described can accrue to your benefit. Jesus was on a unique mission. No one else in the history of the world has ever been a savior or rescuer like that. Call His name Jesus. Yahweh saves for He Himself will save His people from their sins.

There's a third characteristic that points Jesus out as the Messiah and that is His unique credentials. Go back to Matthew 1 and look at verse 22. "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." Now it's possible that beginning with verse 22, Matthew, as the author of this gospel, picks up where the angel left off. And some believe that's what happens here.

It's more likely however based on the structure and the grammar that the angel continues to speak through verse 23. But regardless of who's saying it notice what he says, "All this..." that is everything the angel has described, the entire set of circumstances "... all this took place to fulfill ..." I love this ... "... what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet." That is a description of the Bible you hold in your hand. This is His Word spoken by the Lord through human instruments.

Specifically, though, the angel is citing the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 7:14. This is the first of more than forty times that Matthew quotes an Old Testament prophecy to prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. So, the birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecy that Isaiah recorded 700 years before in Isaiah 7. Let's turn back there together. Isaiah 7. I want you to see this prophecy in its context. Before you can fully appreciate it, though, I need to give you some historical context. So, listen carefully for just a moment so you can get the full impact of this prophecy.

When these words were written, when they were prophesied, a man named Ahaz was king of Judah. Judah was the southern part of Israel; you remember the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin were together and then there were the 10 northern tribes. This was King Ahaz over the southern kingdom, over Judah. Ahaz was an incredibly wicked man. He had filled Jerusalem with idols. He had even reinstated the worship of the god Molech, and incredibly Ahaz had offered his own son in the fire as a sacrifice to the god Molech. This is the king of Israel, of Judah.

Now during Ahaz's reign two kings Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel; (those are the northern tribes). These two kinds decide to attack Judah, replace Ahaz with a puppet king. Ahaz was, of course, frightened by this and he decided the only way out of this predicament was for him to form a secret alliance with one of the world powers of that time, Assyria. Not Syria but Assyria. He essentially sold-out Judah. He even plundered the temple of its gold and silver and sent them to Assyria as kind of protection money. God sent Isaiah to confront Ahaz and to tell him that Judah would not fall. Judah would not be taken by those two kings who had threatened it. That's the context. Now, look at 7:10,

"Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz saying ..." ok if you want to know that I'm going to protect you, Judah's not going to fall to these two kings "Ask a sign for yourself from [Yahweh] your God. And make the sign as deep as Sheol ..." as deep as the grave "... or as high as heaven." In other words, make it as hard as you want. Make it miraculous.

"But Ahaz said ..." verse 12 "... 'I will not ask nor will I test the Lord." Now this is false piety. God had just told him to ask for a sign. He doesn't want to ask for a sign because he's already decided what he's going to do. And he doesn't want God messing up his plans. And so, Isaiah responds and clearly in anger, righteous anger, verse 13,

Then he said "Listen now, oh house of David! Is it too slight a thing … to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son and she will call His name Immanuel. And He will eat curds and honey at the

time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. [These will be lean and tough times]. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

What's going on here? There is a distant prophecy about the Messiah. We'll see in a moment only the Messiah could meet this prophecy and fulfill it. But then Isaiah uses the timeline of the future life of the Messiah as a kind of ruler to help Ahaz understand what's going to happen in his own time. In the time that it will take the eventual Messiah to grow from infancy to when He's weaned, two or three years, the kings that are threatening Ahaz in his own time will be destroyed. Does that make sense? that's the prophecy. Now, as you know some translations and some liberal commentators have argued that this really isn't the prophecy about the virgin birth. Instead, they say, the Hebrew word translated "virgin" here in 7:14 can simply mean "young woman". There's nothing miraculous about this birth or Jesus' birth. But there are several arguments that support even demand the translation "virgin". Let me give them to you just briefly so the next time you get into a discussion about this you're forearmed. Ok? Why is it virgin?

Number one, the Hebrew word for virgin is "alma". It occurs seven times in the Old Testament. It never refers to a married woman or to a woman who is clearly not a virgin. This is so definite in the Old Testament Hebrew that in Martin Luther's time, Luther made this challenge. "If a Jew or a Christian can prove to me that in any other passage of Scripture 'alma' means a married woman, I will give him a 100 florins although God alone knows where I may find them." Typically Luther you know. He's betting money he doesn't have because it's a sure deal.

Reason number two, it has to be virgin: the context of Isaiah 7:14. God has just commanded Ahaz to ask for a sign as deep as the grave or as high as heaven. In other words, miraculous. Ask something miraculous, and I'll do it to show you that I'm going to keep My word. Ahaz refuses to ask for a sign and so Isaiah says ok. The Lord Himself will give you a sign. And imagine Him then saying, a young woman will conceive. Now this doesn't make sense. In the context the only thing that makes sense is a virgin conception.

Reason number three Isaiah 9:6 makes it clear that this would not be an ordinary child. Turn over a couple of pages to 9:6:

For a child will be born to us; a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty

God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. … [And His government will know no end. And He will reign forever.]

This was no ordinary child.

Number four: the Septuagint. This is really interesting to consider. The Septuagint translators, more than a hundred years before Jesus was born, were translating out of Hebrew into Greek. A hundred years before Jesus. So, they're not influenced by Jesus whatsoever. They are Jewish translators translating the Jewish Old Testament into Greek. And when they came to Isaiah 7:14 they used the Greek word that always and only means virgin.

Number five. And this one is the most telling of all: the New Testament authors. When the New Testament authors under inspiration cite Isaiah 7:14 they always use the Greek word that can only mean one thing, virgin. That is the inspired commentary on Isaiah 7:14. So there is no question folks. Isaiah had prophesied 700 years before that someday a virgin would conceive and while she was still a virgin, she would bear a son. And that child would be the long-promised Messiah that Isaiah had so much to say about.

Now do you see what the angel was saying to Joseph? He was saying Mary's child, that child in her womb, the one you're tempted to disown, that child is the fulfillment of Isaiah 7's prophecy. As the only child ever conceived by a virgin, He possessed unique credentials. Mary's child was the Messiah God had promised the world 700 years before.

There's a fourth unique characteristic seen in Jesus' birth and that is: His unique person. His unique person. Look again at verse 23. "Behold a virgin shall be with child and she'll bear a son and they shall call His name Immanuel which translated means 'God with us'". In the final part of the Isaiah prophecy that the angel cites here, Isaiah says that those who have eyes to see it they will call this child Immanuel.

Now the Hebrew word Immanuel is a compound word. It's composed of two Hebrew words put together. The first Hebrew word is "Immanu," Immanu. It means "with us" or "among us". The second Hebrew word is "el". And el is one of the Hebrew words for God. In fact, this is very compelling, Isaiah uses the word "el" twenty-one times for God. And never without exception does he use it of anyone but either the true God Himself or those who claim to be God. In other words, He always uses this word of deity. Let me give you an example. Isaiah 45:22, Yahweh says this, "Turn to Me and be saved. All the ends of the earth for I am [El] and there is no other." So, this child then is not only human born from the womb of a virgin but is also "el", deity.

Up to this point we've not been told specifically or explicitly the true nature of this boy in Mary's womb. There's been a hint. We've been told His name is Yahweh saves and He will save. But what had only been hinted at now becomes clear. The child is God Himself. But He's more because He's going to be born as a human being. He's going to be with us, Immanuel, in the sense that He's becoming one of us. He would become a little child in the womb of a virgin; be born as a human infant and grow into a full human adult.

So bound in this expression is the incredible mystery of the incarnation. That by the power of the third person of the trinity, the second person of the trinity added human nature to His divine nature. Became one of us and lived among us in order to rescue us from our sins. And the angel says all of that took place in perfect fulfillment of God's promise through Isaiah, the birth of Jesus demonstrated His unique person.

Now that brings us to the fifth and final characteristic of Christ's birth that points Him up as the Messiah. And that is His unique pedigree; His unique pedigree. Look at verse 24, "And Joseph awoke from His sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife." Joseph does what the angel commands and he formally goes to Mary's home, takes her from her home into his own. That second part of the Jewish marriage we talked about last week.

You know we read that, and I'm afraid we just sort of read past it and say well, of course he did. Think about this for a moment. My father-in-law who was for 50 years a theology professor used to beat into our heads "read the Bible with a sanctified imagination". Put yourself in Joseph's shoes for a moment. What amazing faith and trust. He has just been told that the woman to whom he's betrothed is pregnant, but at the same time is still a virgin. And as incredible as that might seem to believe, he takes the word of God for it through his angel. And he obeyed in spite of the personal shame that this would bring on him because all of his life people would assume what? That Joseph had gotten Mary pregnant out of wedlock. And yet, he doesn't allow that to deter him from his obedience to God's word in his life.

Verse 25 says that while he took Mary as his wife, he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son. Literally the text says he did not know her. That is, he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to Jesus. And you say why is that? Well, the reason is clear. Remember Isaiah had prophesied that a virgin would conceive and that while she was still a virgin, she would give birth to a son. And so, Joseph respects that prophecy from Isaiah and keeps her a virgin until Jesus is born. Now the implication here by the way is exactly the opposite of the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. It says she was a virgin until the child was born.

In fact, in Mark 6:3 we discover that after Jesus' birth, Mary and Joseph had a number of other children. Jesus had four brothers. They're named in Mark 6:3; James, Joseph, Simon and Judas or Jude as we know him from the book he wrote on the New Testament. And Mark 6:3 also says He had sisters, plural. So, He had at least two sisters. So, understand then, Jesus grew up in a large family. At least a family of seven siblings and perhaps more if there were more than two sisters. So as a virgin, Mary gave birth to a son.

Now look at the end the last phrase of Matthew 1. It's absolutely crucial to our faith. It says Joseph called His name, Jesus. Why is that so crucial? Because by naming Jesus, Joseph was officially claiming Him as his own son. He was adopting Him. Joseph becomes the adoptive father of Christ. You see the key point (of the last two verses of Matthew 1), the key point is to explain how Jesus Who was not Joseph's son by natural generation came to be his legal son. And therefore, legitimately in the royal line of David through Joseph. This is how Jesus, the son of Mary, came to be a genuine heir of David's throne and Israel's rightful king.

And this by the way, if you were here last Sunday, this brings us to the second reason behind the virgin birth. I noted to you last there that there were two primary reasons for the virgin birth. I gave you the primary one last week. It's this: the virgin birth was the only possible means of uniting the pre-existent second person of the trinity with the human nature. If there had been a man and a woman involved, there would have been another person created. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, was already a person. He just needed to add a human nature. And so, the virgin birth allowed Him to continue to be just one person with both a divine and human nature.

But the second reason for the virgin birth is because of a man whose name you may never have heard. A man named Jekoniah or Konia as he's sometimes called. Or Jehoiachim he's sometimes called in the Old Testament as well. The virgin birth was necessary because it protected Jesus from God's curse on Jekoniah. If I had time, I'd take you back there. Let me just give you the reference. Jeremiah 22:30. One of the last kings of Judah. "Thus says the LORD, 'Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah.'"

God says to Jeremiah not one of Jekoniah's descendants would reign as king. It's a permanent curse on Jekoniah and his descendants. You say well, what's the problem? Well, the problem is that God promised David, one of his descendants through Solomon, would be the Messiah and would reign forever. But Jekoniah is in the line of David through Solomon. In fact, Jekoniah if you look at Matthew 1:11 and 12, Jekoniah is in the line of Joseph, Jesus' earthly father. So, in order to have the legal right to David's throne, Jesus' line had to come through Jekoniah. But in order to avoid the curse on Jekoniah, Jesus could not literally be a physical descendant.

That appears to be an irreconcilable conflict, doesn't it? How did God solve it? There was only one way; the virgin birth, the virgin birth. Since Joseph married Mary before Jesus was born and since Joseph named Jesus as his own son, thereby adopting him, Jesus was legitimately his legal heir. And therefore, through Joseph, Jesus was legally in the royal line according to Luke's genealogy through Mary Jesus was physically related to David but not through Solomon and Jekoniah but through another of David's sons, Nathan.

So, only the miracle of the virgin birth could have permitted Jesus to fulfill the promise made to David and avoid the curse made on Jekoniah. God would stop at no lengths to make sure His Son was everything He claimed to be. The point is Jesus possessed the legal right to David's throne through His adoptive father, Joseph. But because Joseph was only His adopted father, He avoided the curse on Jekoniah. He had a unique pedigree, a pedigree that only one person had. This, Matthew tells us, is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah happened.

Now how did Matthew expect us to respond to what we've just studied? How did he expect his readers to respond to this paragraph? He wants you to understand that there is incontrovertible proof that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the long-promised Messiah. He is the rightful king. He is your rightful king. It's not an accident that the very next paragraph in Matthew's gospel is the story of the magi who recognizing Jesus as king do what? They come and fall down at His feet and worship Him. They submit themselves to Him. They honor Him with gifts. That's exactly what God expects you to do with what we've studied together this morning.

Now I know. We live in north Texas, and almost everyone here this morning professes some sort of connection to Jesus. But I don't care whether you made a prayer when you were five years old. I don't care whether or not you claim to be a Christian; you tell everybody you're a Christian. Don't claim if you sort of like Jesus in some way. Don't care if you attend church here or somewhere else. That's not the question.

The question is: have you ever come in your life to acknowledge Jesus' rightful claims as your king? Have you ever been willing to turn as Isaiah said from your own way, fall at His feet and acknowledge His right to rule you in all of life, in daily life? His right to tell you what to do and how to live and how to think. Have you ever come to that point? That's what this paragraph should do to you. It should bring you to the place where you acknowledge as the magi did that Jesus is your rightful king by falling at His feet and worshiping Him and giving Him your life. For there has been born for us a Savior Who is [Messiah] the Lord.

Let's pray together.

Our Father, we do worship and adore Your Son. What an amazing person. What a unique person. In His credentials and in His nature, in His mission, in His conception, in His pedigree. Father, those of us who have come to know You through Your Son, those of us who have acknowledged Him as our rightful king; we who follow Him as Lord and Savior and Teacher.

Father, help us to reaffirm our commitment to Him as our king. May we live our lives daily asking not what we want but what He has said He wants.

Father, I pray for those here this morning who have some sort of attachment to Jesus, but who've never truly turned from their own sinful and self-guided ways, their own way, to acknowledge His right to rule them. May this be the morning when they come to cry out to Him to be their Savior. To save, to rescue them from their sins in the ways we've seen this morning and to acknowledge Him as their rightful king. May they fall on their faces before Him even today as the magi did and worship Him. Father may You do this work of grace in hearts today.

We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.