Today we’re exploring the true meaning of Christmas through the perspective of Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, and his heavenly Father, God. When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant out of wedlock (v. 19), he displayed a remarkable balance between graciousness and allegiance to God’s moral law. If Joseph is going to be faithful to the law of God, he can’t turn a blind eye to what has happened. But on the other hand, He loves Mary and doesn’t want to expose her to public ridicule and shame. As remarkable as Joseph’s response is, Jesus’ other father—God—reveals three truths that are even more important.
- The importance of Jesus’ identity. No mere man, but God Himself, is the baby’s father (v. 20). Comparing v. 21 (“…he shall save his people…”) to Zechariah 9:16 (“God himself will save his people”) reveals that Mary’s baby is God! Then, just to make Jesus’ identity absolutely clear, Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:23 (“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.”). We may not be amazed by that assertion, but first century Jews would have been thunderstruck by the idea of God taking on humanity. Jews knew that God is so holy that fallen humans cannot go into his presence without dying. They wouldn’t even say God’s proper name, “Yahweh”; instead they called him “Lord”. (Unlike the Jews, who knew that Yahweh was the only source of salvation, instead we are shocked by the all-or-nothing character of Christianity.) Instead, like the Jews, we should be shocked by the radical, enormous implications that Jesus is “God with us”. The “doctrine of Christmas” changes everything!
- The importance of the doctrine of Christmas. Not only does the angel tell us who Jesus is, he also tells us what he came to do: “He will save his people from their sins” (v. 21). Every other religious leader claimed to show the right way to live, how to be a good and virtuous person. But Jesus presents himself as our great God and Savior who came to achieve salvation for us. This great salvation comes to us solely by grace, and not by our efforts (because God’s standard is perfection). Jesus came to do what we cannot do for ourselves; no one can be justified by his deeds.
- The importance of Jesus’ authority. Even though Joseph had all of the responsibilities and challenges that come with raising Jesus, the authority to name this child was “above his pay grade” (v. 21, 25)! You had the authority to name your kids and Adam and Eve had the authority to name all the animals, but Joseph was denied this authority. Why? Because to name someone is to have authority over them, and we don’t manage Jesus—he manages us! When Jesus comes into our life, we forfeit the right to live our lives the way we want to. Jesus is lord! We lose the right to self-determination. Jesus has ultimate authority—because he is God! This is the message of Christmas, and it challenges the lie that has become the chief operating assumption of our hearts: We think that we must not submit ourselves fully to God, that we can’t trust that his plan is good for us.
We think God wants to withhold good from us. (This was Satan’s lie to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:1-5). Satan’s lie has entered the bloodstream of the human race, with the result that our main working assumption about God is that if we ever give ourselves completely to Him, we will be miserable. Take a hard inside look and you’ll discover this assumption operating at the bottom of your heart—whether you tend toward relativism or moralism. The relativist says, “I’m not willing to give up one ounce of my freedom to God (if there is a God), because I could never be happy if I did.” The moralist says, “I’m willing to give up some of my freedoms because that’s the only way to get anything out of God. If I’m going to pry blessings out of his begrudging fingers, I’m going to have to toe the line and try to live a moral life.” Satan’s lie says, “Don’t you dare unconditionally trust God—he’ll make you miserable.” But when we see the great lengths God has gone to bring us back into relationship with himself, we cannot continue to believe Satan. Christmas silences Satan’s lie!
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
Embrace Jesus as your Savior and you can come to know the joy that only comes through glad surrender. If you would like to trust Christ as Savior, contact us here. After providing your contact information, scroll down to the Ministry Information Request section and mark the first or second checkbox. You can also email us at: BiblicalHopeAndHelp@gmail.com. We look forward to helping!
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)