Verse 18 – “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows.” Matthew opened the genealogy of Jesus with the statement, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah” (Matthew 1:1). Verse 18 begins the record of the conception of Jesus, “When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child” in our society, this is no problem. However, in Joseph’s society, it was a big problem. Betrothed means Mary for all intent and purpose was married to Joseph. The custom of the day required an interval of one year of betrothal before the bride could take residence in her husband’s house and the consummate of the marriage. The breaking of the betrothal required a legal divorce. During this interval, Mary “was found with child.”
Joseph being a righteous man, a strict observer of the law, and not wanting to disgrace Mary wanted to give her a bill of divorce privately. However, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him “the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. The angel told Joseph to name the Child Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins.”
The angel of the Lord assured Joseph there is no reason for him to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The Child conceived in Mary is by the power of the Holy Spirit and not by the power of nature. The Holy Spirit, who produced the world, now produced the Savior of the world and prepared Him a body. It was necessary that the Child conceived in Mary be by the power of the Holy Spirit and not the power of nature, that He might escape the corruption and pollution of it.
The angel did not tell Joseph the Child would deliver His people from the yoke of the Gentile; he said Jesus would save them from their sins. Those whom Christ saves He saves from their sins, from the guilt of sin by the merit of His death, from the dominion of sin by the Spirit of His grace, He does not save them from the yoke of an oppressing people, such as the Jews were under when Jesus was born. Jesus came to purchase with His blood for His people freedom from sin and not the freedom to continue in their sins.
There are two reasons why the conception of Jesus was by the Holy Spirit, His nature had to be spotless, pure, and without any stain of sin. If the conception of Jesus was the result of an unfaithful act by Mary, rape, or the breaking of the betrothal requirements, as His enemies claim, Jesus was not the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, He is not the Mediator between God and man, the only Mediator. Regardless of man’s opinions, God and man are brought together in the person of Jesus, since He partakes of the nature of both.
Why is it important Matthew includes in His Gospel the account of the conception of Jesus? Matthew answers the question in 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, and they shall call His name Immanuel.’”
According to many skeptics, no one ever called Jesus by the name “Immanuel”, which suggests a failed prophecy. In their view, because Matthew quoted from Isaiah the phrase “call his name” we should understand “Immanuel” to be taken literally since other biblical passages use names literally. Isaiah 9:6 states, “His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. The New Testament writers never referred to these titles as Jesus’ name, yet that does not make Him less of whom He really is.
Since the New Testament, writers do not use the name Immanuel in their writings; can we prove that Mary ever called Jesus “Immanuel”? Can anyone prove that Mary never called Jesus “Immanuel?” Can we prove Matthew 1:18-25 is an accurate account of the birth of Jesus? Can we prove it is not an accurate account of the birth of Jesus? “No”
Joseph sets an example we need to follow – verse 14- “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife.”
Although what the angel of the Lord told Joseph was contrary to everything he believed, was taught, and his intentions to protect himself from the consequences of the pregnancy of Mary, he took her as his wife. When did he obey the command to take Mary as his wife, verse 24 implies he did it immediately, and without questioning.
It is true, in this present age extraordinary direction like this does not generally occur in our lives. However, God still has ways of making known His will for our lives. We may question and be concerned as Joseph was when he faced the greatest decision he will be asked to make. When faced with the decisions we must make that will have a great impact on our lives and the lives of those nearest to us we need to do what Joseph did, he trusted in the word of the Lord. When we trust in the word of the Lord, we have nothing to fear.
Through faith and obedience, Joseph became a man honored above all men. He was given the honor of being the guardian of the Son of God.
Joseph obeyed God. He married Mary and “she gave birth to a Son, and he called His name Jesus.”
Although Joseph solemnized the marriage with Mary, his espoused wife, he kept her a virgin “until she gave birth to a Son,” much has been said and written concerning the perpetual virginity of Mary: Jerome was very angry with Helvidius for denying it. Others claim when it is said, “And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son” that after the birth of Jesus he lived with Mary according to the law, that deals with a second wife (Exodus 21:10).
Matthew 13:53-56 – “When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at Him But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.’ And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.’”Man claims these were Joseph’s children by a previous marriage ignoring the usual sense of brothers and sisters. Since Mary did not conceive Jesus through a sexual act, His siblings were half brothers and sisters.