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The Birth of the Messiah - Part 3

Tom Pennington • Matthew 1:18-25

  • 2020-12-20 AM
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Well, I want you to take your Bibles and turn with me again to Matthew's gospel, chapter 1. We have been studying, the last couple of weeks, Matthew's account of the birth of Christ. It is Joseph's side of the story. Matthew wrote his gospel to show that Jesus of Nazareth was and is Israel's promised Messiah and rightful king, and he sets out through a series of evidences to prove that is true. He begins in the first chapter with the genealogy of Christ. That's because he needed to show that Jesus is, in fact, in the line of kings, which this genealogy shows. Then Matthew records, at the end of chapter 1, the events surrounding Jesus' birth, and these events to prove who He really was. Let's read it again together, Matthew 1. I'll begin reading in verse 18, you follow along in your copy of God's Word. Matthew 1:18,

Now the birth of Jesus the 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 and 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.

We've discovered that here in this paragraph, Matthew focuses on five unique characteristics of the birth of Jesus, intended to prove that He is, in fact, the Messiah, the long promised, the long awaited one. So far, we've considered two of those characteristics, let me just remind you. First of all, we looked at His unique conception. That's the message of verses 18 to 20. There we learned that Jesus was, in fact, conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. His was truly a unique conception.

Last week we looked at verse 21 and we examined a second characteristic, and that is, His unique mission. He was sent by God on a mission and in verse 21 we learned a couple of things about that mission. First of all, we learned the author of the mission. Verse 21 says, "you shall call His name Jesus." Jesus is the Greek form of the Old Testament name Joshua. In Hebrew it's Yehoshua or Yeshua, and it means Yahweh saves or Yahweh is salvation. So, in other words, Jesus' name itself points to the identity of the one who sent Him, it is no one less than Yahweh.

The Old Testament declares that there is only one true and living God, and Yahweh is His name. He is the one who is, who is dependent on nothing and no one else; He simply exists. But the author of the mission is not only identified in who He is, but in what He's like, His character. He is the God who saves, Yahweh saves. In both Hebrew and Greek Jesus' name means that. You see, the main point of His name is that Yahweh, the true and living God, is by nature a saving God, a redeeming God.

So Jesus' name reveals the author of the mission, but it also reveals the executor of the mission, the one who's going to carry this mission out. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." This child that's to be named Jesus has been sent on a mission from God. And He's qualified to execute that mission because of His qualification as God. Notice, it says, "call His name Jesus, for He Himself will save." From the time of Joshua in the Old Testament a lot of Jewish boys have been named Joshua. Why? To remind themselves that God was a God who saves.

But Jesus was to be named that for a different reason, and that is because He Himself would save His people from their sins. Jesus is the only one qualified to be a savior because He is Yahweh, the one who saves. He's also qualified to carry out the mission because His passion for His people is such that it is. Notice, "He will save His people." Jesus possesses a unique group of people who belong to Him. In Matthew 16 He says, it's "'My church,'" it's "'My assembly.'" And in the very end of Matthew's gospel we find out that these people who are His weren't only there in the first century, they are people from every period of human history and in every place on this planet, "'disciples of all the nations.'"

The Father gave these people to the Son, we saw in John 17, as the eternal expression of His love. And Jesus came on a mission on behalf of the ones the Father had sent Him. Why? He came on a mission of salvation. Notice, verse 21 says, "call His name Jesus, for," because, "He will save His people from their sins."

Now I can't take you back through what we learned last time, let me just give you the summary. When it says, Jesus will save us from our sins, it means Jesus perfectly kept God's law for His people. Jesus fully paid the legal debt for the sin and guilt of His people. Jesus fully satisfied the just wrath of God on behalf of His people. Jesus ended the enslaving power of sin for His people. And Jesus will someday deliver His people eternally, even from the capacity to sin; like Himself, we will be impeccable. Jesus came on a unique mission.

Today we come to a third unique characteristic connected to Jesus' birth that proves He is, in fact, the Messiah, the rightful king. And that is, His unique credentials, His unique credentials. Notice 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 bear a Son.'" Now, one little note to make, it is possible that the angel finished speaking in verse 21 and Matthew picks up with his own inspired commentary in verse 22. That is possible. However, for a number of reasons, and I'm not going to walk you through the argumentation, but I think it's likely the angel is still speaking through verse 23.

Regardless of who it is speaking, notice what he says. The expression "all this" refers to everything that the angel has explained to Joseph, the entire set of circumstances. "All this," literally the Greek text says, "has happened to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet." And let me just hit the pause button there and say, did you notice the angel's view of inspiration or Matthew's? Either way, notice it's what Isaiah wrote, but it's what the Lord said through the prophet, "what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah." That should be your view of Scripture as well. When you come to the Word of God, it is ultimately the very words of God through the human instrument.

The angel then quotes from the Septuagint. Now, if you're new to our church, you may not be aware of what that is. The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. By the time of just before Jesus, very few people really could read Hebrew, very few people spoke Hebrew, and so they were losing touch with their Scriptures. And so, there were a group of Jewish scholars who translated the Hebrew Old Testament, about 100 years before Christ, who translated it from Hebrew into the Greek language, which had become like English, so it was kind of a universal business language of the world of that day, and it's known as the Septuagint.

So, it was the Bible of the New Testament era. Jesus often quotes from it. The Apostles quote from it. It is the Bible of that time. And the angel here quotes, or at least Matthew as he repeats what the angel said, quotes from the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 7:14. Now, this is the first of 12 times that Matthew will use this fulfillment language: it was fulfilled, or this was the fulfillment of. And this is the first of more than 60 times that Matthew will quote the Old Testament to prove that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah.

Now here are Jesus' unique credentials. His birth was the fulfillment of the prophecy written by Isaiah in Isaiah 7, 700 years before the birth of Jesus. Those are unique credentials. That's what the angel is saying. This birth is the fulfillment of what God prophesied through Isaiah. Let's go back to Isaiah 7 and see it in its context, Isaiah 7.

Now, before we look at the prophecy itself, let me just give you some historical context because it will help you understand this prophecy a lot better. Stay with me. It's worth it, okay. There's a little history here but stay with it because it will help you understand what is going on. You remember, after the time of Solomon the nation of Israel split into two parts. You had, on the north, a part of the 10 tribes, all 10 tribes that were called Israel. And on the south you had Judah, which was Judah and Benjamin, the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. And it was split, two different kings, two different kingdoms.

The context of this prophecy is in the time of a king named Ahaz; Ahaz was king of the south, down in Judah. He was an incredibly wicked man. He had filled Jerusalem with idols. In fact, he had reinstated the worship of the god Molech and had burned his own infant son in the fire as a sacrifice to Molech.

During the reign of Ahaz, two kings, Rezin from Syria, yes, Syria always finds a way into history, Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, that's the northern tribes, the 10 tribes, those two kingdoms decided to make an alliance. And they decided to attack Judah in the south, where Ahaz reigned, and replace him with a puppet king. So Ahaz understandably is nervous about this, and he's looking for solutions to defeat this alliance.

So, he himself, Ahaz, formed a secret alliance, not with the Syrians but with the Assyrians, an ancient empire that no longer exists there in the area of Mesopotamia. And he formed a secret alliance with them to protect himself, and he essentially sold-out Judah. In fact, he even plundered the temple of some of its gold and silver and sent it to Assyria to seal the deal. Now, God then sent Isaiah to confront Ahaz and to tell him that Judah would not be taken by this alliance, and that he needed to repent of his idolatry and put his trust in the true God, the God of Israel. That's the context of the prophecy.

Now look at Isaiah 7:10,

Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz saying, "Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it as deep as Sheol [as deep as the grave] or as high as heaven."

What God is saying is, listen, I know you don't believe that I can protect Judah without your help, without your conniving alliances, but I can. And just to prove to you that this is My plan, you ask Me whatever you want. You ask something impossible of Me, something as deep as the grave or as high as heaven. In other words, ask something miraculous and I'll do it to prove to you that I'm going to accomplish this, I'm going to protect Judah.

Now, notice Ahaz's response in verse 12, "Ahaz said, 'I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!'" Sounds super pious, right? He's not being pious. We know from other texts he had no intention of trusting the true God. This is a stalling technique to try to appear somewhat righteous when he doesn't want to do what God wants him to do. He has no intention of trusting God.

And so then Isaiah responds, verse 13, "Then he said, 'Listen now, O House of David!'" Now he's not speaking just to Ahaz but to all the people of Israel,

"Is it to slight a thing for you 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: [You won't ask for a sign as high as heaven or as deep as the grave, then the Lord will give you a sign.] Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."

In other words, God is going to prove His faithfulness to His people by one day sending a redeemer. That's the point. That's the context of this famous prophecy.

Now look at the word virgin there in verse 14. Some translations and some commentators have argued that the Hebrew word translated virgin doesn't have to mean virgin but may mean just young woman. Now there are several arguments that demand the translation virgin. Let me give them to you. This has to be virgin for several reasons. Number one, the Hebrew word almah, translated virgin here, occurs seven times in the Old Testament and it never refers to a woman who is married, nor does it ever refer to a woman who is clearly not a virgin. In fact, this matter of grammar and the use of the word is so certain that Martin Luther issued this challenge, "If a Jew or a Christian can prove to me that in any other passage of Scripture almah means a married woman, I will give him 100 Florens," that's at least $15,000, "although God alone knows where I may find them."

Second argument, the context of Isaiah 7:14 demands a miraculous birth. Again, remember what's going on. God has just asked Ahaz to ask Him for a miraculous sign, "as high as heaven or as deep as Sheol," for a miracle. And when Ahaz refused to do so, Isaiah said, okay, then "the Lord Himself will give you a sign," and here it is, you ready, a young woman will conceive. That makes no sense. That's not a sign. That happens every day, millions of times. The only thing that fits the context of something miraculous is a virgin conception.

Number three, when you look at the surrounding passages, you look at this section, Isaiah 7:1 to Isaiah 9:7, you discover that whoever this child is, He is not a normal child. Go over to chapter 8. This is where we pick up this name Immanuel again. Chapter 8 beginning in verse 1 running down through verse 8, God is saying the Assyrians, Assyrians now, that ancient empire, is going to conquer Judah. And notice what he says in verse 8, "'it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, it will reach even to the neck; and the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.'" So here we meet this person again, this Immanuel; who is He? Well, whoever He is, He owns the land of Israel. It's His land.

Go over to chapter 9 verses 1 and 2. At the end of verse 1, you remember this prophecy that "Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them." Here is a prophecy that this person, whoever He is, will appear in the Galilee of the Gentiles as a great light to those who live in the shadow of death. Go down to verse 6 of chapter 9, He will be "a child born to us, a son given; whose name will be called Wonderful Counselor," a wonder of a counselor, "Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." And verse 7 says, He will reign on David's throne forever. Folks, this is no normal child. This child has to be the Messiah.

A fourth argument, that this must be virgin in chapter 7 verse 14, is more than 100 years before Christ when the Septuagint we were talking about a moment ago, when the Septuagint translators translated Isaiah 7:14, this is with no Christian pre-disposition, this is before Christ came, these are Jewish scholars translating the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, they chose in Isaiah 7:14, a Greek word that only and always means virgin, never means anything else. And then number five, and frankly this one should seal the deal, even if you didn't have the other arguments, Matthew, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when he quotes Isaiah 7:14 he uses the Greek word in the text we've been studying that only and always means virgin.

So let's put it all together. Why does this matter? Get the point that the angel is making, Isaiah prophesied 700 years before Jesus that 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 has so much to say about in the passages we just looked at and in the rest of his book.

Now do you see what the angel was telling Joseph? Mary's child had truly unique credentials, because He and He alone was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. As the only child in human history ever conceived by a virgin, He possessed unique credentials. Mary's child was the Messiah that God had promised the world.

There's a fourth unique characteristic seen in Jesus' birth, back in Matthew 1, it's His unique person, His unique person. Verse 23, "'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.'" Now notice the second half of this prophecy from Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah says those who have eyes to see it will call this child Immanuel.

Now first of all, who is it that's calling this child Immanuel? It's interesting, the angel changes the wording slightly. If you go back to Isaiah 7:14, it's "she will call His name Immanuel." Here it's, "'they will call His name Immanuel.'" Both are true, but who's the they? You find no evidence of anybody in the New Testament era calling Jesus routinely, Immanuel. It's not like a name He went by. So what's the significance? The they here is referring back to "'His people'" in verse 21. Those who are "'His people,'" those whose sins He saves them from. "'They call His name Immanuel.'" This is how they have come to understand who He is.

So what is this name Immanuel? Well, as you know, the Hebrew word Immanuel is composed of two Hebrew words. It's a compound. Immanu, which means with or among us and El, which is one of the words for God, one of the Hebrew words for God. In fact, Isaiah uses the word El 21 times in his prophecy. He never uses El in his entire prophecy of anyone but God Himself or an impostor for the true God. In other words, he always uses the word El for God, that is, a deity. You see it mostly of the true God. For example, in Isaiah 45:22, we looked at this last week, that invitation of God, "'Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am El, I am God, and there is no other.'"

So this child is truly a unique person. He's, on the one hand, fully human. I mean, He's a child. He's conceived. He's going to be born. He's going to have a mother. He's going to enter the world in which we live. He's going to be one of us. But He's also God. So He's Immanu, that is, He's with us, He's among us. But He's El, He's God.

Now, up to this point in this encounter Joseph is having in his dream with the angel, Joseph had not been explicitly told the true nature of the boy in Mary's womb; it had been implied. Remember, we looked last week at the fact that He's to be called Jesus, Yahweh saves, because "'He Himself will save His people from their sins.'" That implies that He is Yahweh. But what had been implied before is now explicitly stated, this child is God, God with us.

But not only is He God, He's more, He's going to be with us. Now that's an interesting expression, because why is this different? If you go back to the Old Testament, and this is an interesting study, maybe one of these years will do it again, I've done it in the past, you will find that the second person of the Trinity is always with His people in the Old Testament. Remember, He was with them in the garden with Adam and Eve; He was walking with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day. He was with Noah. He was with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. In the wilderness wanderings He was with His people. He was always with His people.

So what's different in Bethlehem? It was the first time He was with His people in the sense that He became one of them. That's what this is implying. He's going to be born as one of us, and He's with us in that sense. You see, bound up in this expression is the incredible mystery of the incarnation. By the power of the third member of the Trinity, the second member of the Trinity added human nature to His divine nature and lived among us. You remember the words of John in John 1 verses 14 and 18, he says, "the Word," that "Word which was God and was with God," in eternity past, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." "No one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten God," that's a reference to Jesus, "the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained God."

Turn over to Romans 1. Early on in our study of the book of Romans we saw this reality, Romans 1:1,

Paul, a bond-servant of Messiah Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, [the gospel] which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.

And what is at the heart of the gospel? Verse 3, the gospel "concerning His Son." And notice how he describes both these unique aspects of this person,

who was born of a descendant of David according to the flash, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Messiah our Lord.

That's who we worship. Let me ask you this morning, is this who you worship? Is this who you adore? Is this who you follow? Is this who your life is committed to?

Go over to Romans 9, Romans 9:5. Paul's talking about the advantages that Israel has, and those who are Israelites have, and he says, from Israel, verse 5, "are the fathers," Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, "and from whom is the Messiah according to the flesh," and notice how he describes the Messiah, "who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen."

You see, Jesus is God and He is man. He is the God man. He is fully and completely everything that God is and He is fully and completely everything that you are except for sin. That's what the prophecy taught. That's what His unique credential was; He had to be both God and man.

Why? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why was it necessary for the eternal Son of God to become man? And why did He have to be God in order to deal with our sin? Well, He had to be man in order to stand in our place as our substitute to satisfy the justice of God on our behalf. But He had to be God in order to bear the infinite debt of our sin and pay for it adequately before a holy God. And He was both. He was the God man. He was God with us.

By the way, for your encouragement, Jesus is still God with us. You know how this gospel ends? It ends with the great commission where Jesus commissions His disciples in all times and places,

Go make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; [and as you do this, what?] lo, I am with you always

As we carry out the mission of Christ in this church and around the world, He is with us. He's with you in whatever circumstances you find yourself in today. You're not alone. You've not been abandoned. Remember, David refers to our good shepherd in Psalm 23 as when you walk through the dark valleys of this life, you don't need to be afraid because He is with you. He's still God with us. His birth demonstrated His unique credentials, but also His unique person. He is God and man, fully God, fully man, the God man.

That brings us to the fifth and final characteristic of Christ birth, His unique pedigree, His unique pedigree. Look at verse 24, "And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did is the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife." Joseph did exactly what the angel had commanded that he do. He took that next step in the first century Jewish marriage. You remember, two weeks ago I shared with you that the typical first century Jewish marriage consisted of two parts. There was a 12 month period or so that was the kiddushin. It was the betrothal period. It's when you had committed to marry. You were in a legally binding contract, but you were not living together as husband and wife. You were not sexually involved, but you were considered husband and wife in every other way. You could only get out of that relationship by divorce. And if you were unfaithful, you were considered to be adulterous. That's the first stage. That's when Joseph is learning about all of this.

But the angel says, Joseph, I don't want you to be afraid to take the next step, I don't want you to be afraid to take her as your wife. And so, he awakes from this dream, and he does exactly what the angel commands. And you remember, the second part of that is at the end of the kiddushin, at the end of that 12 month period, he gathers all of his friends, and he marches through the streets with, you know, I'm sure instruments and laughing and all the things that go with celebration, and wound his way through the village to his wife's home, his wife to be's home. And there he would take her from her home, again, back through the streets with the same celebration and hoopla, all the way back to his house. And then there would be the wedding itself and the consummation of the marriage, and often a long feast to follow. That's what Joseph did. He awoke from this dream, and he went to Mary's house, and he took her back to his and made her his wife.

Now, let me just say, it's so important when you read the Bible not to get confused about who the hero is. The people are never the true heroes. You know, Noah is not the hero. Moses is not the hero. Daniel is not the hero. Joseph is not the hero of this story, Jesus is. He's always the hero of the story. However, it is still appropriate for us to acknowledge how God graciously works in the lives of His people, because notice the amazing faith and trust that Joseph exhibits here. I mean, as unbelievable as it had seemed to him that Mary was still a virgin even when she was pregnant, and she's trying to convince him of this, Joseph accepted God's assurance through the angel and he takes her and marries her in spite of the personal shame that it brought on him.

I mean, think about it. For the rest of his human life everyone is always thinking that he got Mary pregnant. But he believed, he believed what the angel said, and he took her. Verse 25, he

took Mary as his wife, but he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Literally the Greek text says, "he did not know her." That's a Jewish euphemism from Old Testament times. He did not have sexual relations with her, notice, "until she gave birth." Now why is that important? Because Isaiah had said that a virgin would conceive and while she was still a virgin, she would give birth to a son. So, "he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to Jesus."

By the way, the implication here is exactly the opposite of the Roman Catholic 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 Christ's birth, Mary and Joseph did come together and they had a least six other children. Four other boys, their names are listed, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas, and at least two sisters because the plural is used, could be more than two. So Jesus grew up as the oldest in a family of at least seven siblings. But as a virgin, Mary "gave birth to a Son."

Now notice, Matthew adds that Joseph called his name Jesus. When did that happen? According to Luke 2:21, it happened with the circumcision, the typical time to name the child, eight days after his birth. Is that important? It's crucial to the redemption story. Why? Because by naming Jesus, Joseph was officially and legally adopting Him, he was accepting Him as his own son. You see, the point of the last two verses of Matthew 1 is to explain how Jesus, who was not Joseph's son by natural generation, came to be his legal son. And therefore, Jesus was in the royal line of David through Joseph. That's how Jesus, think about this, that's how Jesus, the son of Mary, came to be a genuine heir of David's throne and Israel's rightful king.

And it also gives the other reason for the virgin birth. You remember, a couple of weeks ago I told you that the virgin birth was important for two reasons, and I gave you one of those reasons. Let me remind you of it. The first reason we examined, the first and primary reason for the virgin birth is that it was the only possible means of uniting the pre-existing second person of the Trinity with a human nature. What happens when a man and a woman come together? What's created? A new person. A third person. Well, the eternal son of God was already a person. He didn't need to become another person. So the virgin birth allowed Jesus, the pre-existing Son of God, to continue to be just one person but have both His eternal divine nature and to add a human nature to Himself.

But there's a second reason for the virgin birth and it's because of a man that most Christians have never even heard of. The virgin birth was absolutely necessary because it protected Jesus from God's curse on King Jeconiah. You say, who was King Jeconiah? Well, turn back with me to Jeremiah, Jeremiah 22. This is so important. It's so important to who Jesus was and His qualification to be the king, to be the Messiah. Jeremiah 22, let's start at verse 24, "'As I live,' declares the Lord, 'even though Coniah,'" now that's just another name for Jeconiah, that I've just given you; it's also another name for a man named Jehoiachin, three different names for the same guy, "'the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah even if he were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off.'" In other words, God says, I'm done, I'm done with him, I'm done with you.

Now go down to verse 30, "'Thus says Yahweh, "Write,"'" speaking of Jeconiah, "'"Write this man down childless."'" Stop there for a moment. Was Jeconiah a man who had no children, literally? No, he had children. He had descendants. So what does that mean? Well, the rest of the verse explains, "'"A man who will not prosper in his days; and no man of his seed,"'" his physical descendants, "'"will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah."'" What's God doing? God is pronouncing a permanent curse on Jeconiah and his descendants. No one who is a physical descendant of this man will ever sit on the throne of David as king over Israel.

Now there is a problem, because Jeconiah is in the line of Solomon and God in 2 Samuel 7 had said that the Messiah would come from David and Solomon. Well guess who one of the descendants of Solomon is? Jeconiah. And God just said no descendant of his will ever sit on the throne. So how does all this work out? It seems like an irreconcilable conflict. I mean, Jeconiah actually appears in the genealogy of Jesus.

Go to Matthew 1, Matthew 1:11,

Josiah became the father [here he is] Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation of Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, [and it goes right down to Joseph]

Wait a minute, how does this work? God says it has to be a descendant of David through Solomon, but Jeconiah stands in the middle of that mess, and God said no descendant, no physical descendant of his, will ever sit on the throne. It seems irreconcilable.

To avoid the curse Jesus could not be of the seed of Jeconiah, but to have the legal right to David's throne Jesus had to come in the line through Jeconiah. How is this resolved? It's no problem for God. The answer is the virgin birth. Since Joseph married Mary before Jesus was born, and since Joseph named him as his own son, Jesus was legitimately the son and legal heir of Joseph. So, through Joseph, Jesus was legally in the royal line, which included Jeconiah. But he was not of the seed of Jeconiah. He was not a physical descendant of Jeconiah. In fact, according to Luke's genealogy, through Mary, Jesus was physically related to David, not through Solomon, and therefore Jeconiah, but rather through another son of David, Nathan.

Only the miracle of the virgin birth allowed Jesus to be the complete fulfillment of the promise made to David that one of his descendants through Solomon would sit on the throne and yet to avoid the curse on the descendants of Jeconiah. The point is this folks, Jesus rightly possesses the legal authority to David's throne through his adoptive father Joseph and yet He avoids the curse that God placed on the descendants of Jeconiah, and so He has every right to sit on David's throne forever. That's the point. That's why a virgin birth was crucial.

This, Matthew tells us, is how the virgin birth of Jesus the Messiah happened, and he highlights for us as he unfolds it, the characteristics that identify Jesus as the rightful king, as your rightful king. His unique conception in the womb of a virgin by the miraculous creative act of the Holy Spirit. His unique mission, the spiritual rescue of His people from their sins. His unique credentials. His birth to a virgin, as prophesied by Isaiah 700 years before. His unique person. He's not only the human son of a woman, but He is God with us. And His unique pedigree. He has the legal right to David's throne through Joseph, His adoptive father. What an amazing passage.

So what are we supposed to do with this? How are you supposed to respond to what we've studied together? Well don't forget, Matthew intended this paragraph to provide proof to you that in the events surrounding Jesus' birth, He clearly is the Messiah. His birth fulfilled two Old Testament prophecies regarding Messiah's birth. He would be in David's line and He would be the one born of a virgin that Isaiah prophesied. And there has only been one virgin birth on this planet, so you can't miss Him. It's not like, you know, who is He?

You say, well, how can I know that there's a virgin birth? Well, again, how much testimony does God have to give you? Let's think about the testimony you have of the virgin birth. You have God Himself in the Scripture. You have Gabriel giving that witness to both Mary and Joseph. You have Mary, who we've learned as we've seen this unfold, was neither gullible nor flighty. You have Joseph, who from the very beginning hearing the story was an absolute skeptic, and yet, he became convinced that Mary was a virgin, that the child in her womb was, in fact, there by the Holy Spirit, and that his son was the Messiah, the Savior. And he believed that and was convinced of that at great risk to his own moral reputation. And then you have Jesus Himself. Think about this, you have the testimony of Jesus Himself, through Matthew and Luke, whom He commissioned as His official proxies to write. What else do you need? What other testimony do you need? God's given you everything you need.

So if you here this morning are already a repentant, believing disciple of Jesus the Messiah, what are you to do with this passage? This passage, folks, is here to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ. What happened at the first Christmas and in the nine months before was a miracle intended to prove to you and the world that Jesus is the Messiah, and that He is worthy of your faith and your confidence. It's right for you to put your full confidence of life and eternity in His hands because of who He is, and here's the evidence of who He is. He's worthy of staking your life and eternity on. Your faith in Him will not, it cannot be disappointed. He is the one and God left no doubt.

At this Christmas as you celebrate this week, you gather with family and friends perhaps, remember that it's God's evidence to you that He is who He claimed and then He will do what He said He would do in your life, now and forever. If you're here this morning and you're not a Christian, and let me define that because, frankly, a lot of, I think almost everybody in North Texas, well, I shouldn't say everybody but many people in North Texas think they're Christians who aren't, so let me define that.

If Jesus Christ is not your Master and Lord, I want you to ask yourself that, if Jesus Christ is not your Master and Lord, then you are not a Christian. And this passage is here to provide you evidence to truly believe in Him. Jesus of Nazareth had a miraculously conception and birth, and that proves that He's all He claimed to be. These verses tell us who He is. As you look at your nativity set there in your home, the baby in that manger, represented by that nativity set, is the virgin conceived, virgin born Messiah. He is Yahweh in the flesh. He is God with us. And yet He is fully, completely human.

These verses also tell us why He came. He came to save His people from their sins. If you're willing to repent and believe in Him, you're one of His people. If you'll take that step, you're one of His people. And He came to save you, to deliver you from the guilt and the power and the penalty of your sins now and forever. That's why He came. That's what we celebrate.

How is He going to do that? Here's how He said it in Matthew 20:28, He said, I'm going to give My life, I'm going to die as a ransom payment to God for your sins. Or let's think of the way Isaiah put it in Isaiah 53:10. I love this. He said He presents Himself "as a guilt offering" to God. In Old Testament terms Jesus becomes your lamb, killed by your hand, to satisfy God's justice against your sin. He dies, you live. He suffers the penalty of your sin, you're forgiven. That's who Jesus is.

And this story, if you're here this morning and you're not a follower of Jesus Christ, this story is an invitation. In fact, it's a command for you to repent and believe in Him. Because, you see, you only have a couple of choices. If you're not a Christian, I'm just being honest with you, you only have a couple of choices. You can say, I don't believe any of that. Well, look at the testimony you're denying. Look at who you're calling a liar. Or you can say, I believe that, I'm just not going to do it. What does that say to God? God, you know, I appreciate all You've done, I appreciate everything You've given me, I appreciate life and all the good things I enjoy. And hey, I really appreciate You sending Your Son and all of that. But, you know, I'm just enjoying my life too much. Think of the attack that is on the God who made you and sustains your life. And the only other option is your only reasonable option this Christmas. And that is, to repent of your sins and believe in Him. That's what this story is here, to invite you, to command you to do. That's my prayer for you as well. Let's pray.

Father, thank You for Your Son. Lord, those of us in this room who have already, by your grace, come to know Him, to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior, Lord, our faith is deepened and encouraged. I pray this week as we gather with our family and friends that You would help us not to allow all of our traditions and trappings to crowd out the hero of the story. May we think about and meditate on what we have learned from this passage, may it control our celebration. And may it fuel our worship and praise.

Father, I pray for those who are listening who are not in Christ. Lord, perhaps some who came in thinking they were, others who came in knowing they're not, but to whom Your Spirit has made it clear they're not truly in Christ. Lord help them to see their options. Lord, don't let them deny these realities and in so doing call You a liar. Lord, don't let them, even worse, say these things are true and simply say, they're just not worth giving up their life for. But Father, I pray that in this Christmas season they would come to know the one we celebrate, and they would come to know Him as Savior and Lord. I pray it in His name, amen.