Friday 24 December 2021


Matthew Chapter 1 v 18/25

The story we are looking at this morning is one of the greatest ever told, the birth of our Saviour. Jesus Christ. It is a most controversial story, for it is telling an extraordinary event, unique and once in all history. 

 To the non-worshipping person, it is beyond their ability to accept, because no other person has been born so. But no other person was, has been or will be, like Jesus. He was by nature human in that he became tired, hungry, thirsty and weary. And yet divine by his miraculous deed; he was in fact God in the flesh.

 There are in the Church many hypocrites, who cannot accept the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, but will readily stand up in Church and recite the Apostles Creed each Sunday.

 The Apostles’ Creed states: “I believe in Jesus Christ … who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” Here we come face to face with the Virgin Birth of Christ.  Both Church and nonchurch members claim to be Christian and believers in God, but believing means more than just claiming, even the devil believes in God.

 The gospel of Matthew was written primarily for Jews, which explains the long line of descent in which the book opens, and many of those names would be to a Jew an historical one, and it also established the line of descent to Jesus through Joseph.

Jews were concerned for genealogies and in Palestine it was important to prove your Jewishness; and dependence on your line of descent was important in order to be allowed to enter parts of the Temple in Jerusalem.

David was so important in this lineage; the Old Testament said the Messiah would be born of David's line. The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus was believed to be the Messiah.

 Isaiah predicted 700years earlier, that a young woman of marriageable age, who is also a virgin would give birth to a son - and he would be "God with us" - Immanuel. Matthew is wanting to teach us that Jesus is the fulfilment of the promises of God in the Old Testament.

 God is directly concerned and involved throughout history. God is faithful and always keeps his word. God promised to raise up a Saviour from the line of Abraham and the line of David.

 Our passage opens at verse 18, where it is stated, ` now the birth of Jesus Christ took place this way.’ Such is the positive announcement, before it goes on to describe the betrothal of Mary and Joseph.

 Betrothal of the Jews was something equivalent to our engagement in theory if not in practice.  The bridegroom and bride made a pledge in the presence of two witnesses, which was really the first step in marriage; the man and woman became husband and wife. The couple were then separated from each other for a period up to a year, and if during that time either became unfaithful, they were under Old Testament law adulterers liable to be stoned to death. 

 If the marriage broke down, the couple were divorced, or if death occurred widower or widow. The marriage was consummated when they met again.  Often the parents caused the marriage by making arrangements, and same people think they do a better job.

 This was in the New Testament  where the true marriage was heterosexual as ordained by God, one man one woman.

 Before the couple lived together it was found that Mary was pregnant yet still a virgin. She knew she was pregnant, as an angel had foretold, she would be by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 Joseph came to the natural conclusion that she had been unfaithful with another man, being unaware of the angel’s message.  He realized he could not live with her in such a case, but being a righteous man, he did not want to offend God, but was faced with the impression Mary had broken her pledge. He was however a compassionate man who loved Mary and did not want to expose her to public humiliation, so decided to divorce her or send her away quietly, which he did not really want to do because of his feelings for her. In addition, his place would be a stain in the line of David down to Jesus.

 Whilst he wrestled on what he should do, he fell asleep and began to dream. During his sleep he had a vision in which he was told that it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Mary was with child, and he should not hesitate to accept Mary as his wife.

 Joseph was rewarded as he had turned to God in faith and his concern was ended.  The Bible states, ‘In all thy ways acknowledge God and he shall direct thy paths. This shows us that Joseph obeyed. He not only trusted God, he obeyed. As the hymn states, trust and obey.

 As so often happens when you honestly seek God's guidance and you plan to do things that seem right to you, but are in fact, wrong, God providentially corrects you.

The baby would be called Jesus for he would save his people from their sins.  Jesus is a name which helped many by giving inward peace and a rest for heavy heart; people have found Jesus has known their thoughts and hearts.

 This passage begins the New Testament and contains the very words of God, who we must thank for giving us the Bible.  The poorest man or woman who listens and understands the Bible is wiser than many so called intellectuals and academics. We shall be judged one day by the way we have responded to God.

 This means we should read the Bible honestly and reverently, and having done so, practice all it commands and pray the Holy Spirit will apply to our hearts.

 These verses tell us of the entrance into our world by Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour, and the doctrine of the Virgin Birth has been the doctrine of all denominations for centuries, and only in these liberal times has it been the subject of controversy. True, there were a few heretics, like some modern bishops and clergy who deny these accounts in pulpits; don't be seduced by them. but we treat such talk with the contempt they deserve.

 It is talk like that which does so much harm to the Church. Imagine you are on a jury and have to decide on evidence given. In such trial the Police will be represented by a prosecuting solicitor whose task is to lead the witness through their evidence.  The accused will be represented by their own solicitor, and his task is to get the accused off the charge. He will in a lot of cases put truth aside and make up all kinds of stories to refute evidence, which is par for the cause, such is the way 'justice' is defined.

 If the prosecuting solicitor begins to cast doubt on the police evidence and suggested the policeman was mistaken or not telling the truth, would you convict?  But this is what is happening in the Church when some of us are trying to follow our Lord’s commission and make disciples, bringing people to church, then we have clergy at all levels, challenging of all things, God’s Word. and we wonder why people are not attending.

 Matthew and Luke are trustworthy. The evidence that they are giving you are facts - not myths. That brings us to Mary.

 There are depths which are too deep for us to fully comprehend; be content to believe with reverent minds and not speculate that which we do not understand.  There are many things we do not understand, but fully accept without hesitation. How is it by holding a small plastic box without any outer connection, but by pressing a combination of numbers you can speak within seconds to someone on the other side of the world. Or by turning a switch on a television set in a room in any part of the world, and watch one of the most exciting and greatest football teams in the world in Liverpool. Very few people can explain, yet we all use.

 As we leave this passage, try to remember Jesus is both human and divine. He did the work God sent him to do, healing the sick and dying.

 You will go on to believe Jesus has experienced more pain and suffering than we can imagine.  He endured a most horrific death on the Cross, the cruellest punishment man has devised. Prior to that he was lashed 39 times with a leather belt with steel studs and made to carry his own Cross.  Don’t be a fake Christian who lays claim to be a Christian just on the basis of believing in God, or by listening to Songs of Praise every Sunday.  Even the devil believes in God.

If you want the privilege of being a Christian you will fully believe as the Bible, which was given by God, states in this story in Matthew, and is also in Luke.  It is sometimes suggested it not to be correct as Mark and John don’t mention it, but they write on a different part of our Lord’s life. Many people follow the Sermon on the Mount and are deeply moved by it, yet that was only in Matthew and Luke.

 They are drawing on different sources. It has been suggested that Matthew based his account information coming from Joseph, whilst with Luke was informed by Mary. But both agree about the central truth that Jesus was born of a virgin mother.  This information was before known by both Matthew and Luke. They did not make it up.

If Mary had not been a virgin and had a child by someone else, Luke who was a medical doctor, would not have suggested that she was a great example of obedience. He knew that in the moral climate of those days such an attempt would not have been well received.

 It is by faith that, what we cannot see or words which cannot prove, we become true followers of our Lord, and millions of very clever men and women who have truly believed, have been prepared to go to the uttermost parts of the world and live hard lives in order to take the gospel to those who have not heard

 People will sing carols, and over eat and drink and spend more money than they can afford; pop groups will sing of ‘chris.-ee-mus’ without ever giving a thought as to why it is Christ-mas. 

All very well Harry Belafonte telling us we shall live for ever more because of Christmas Day, when in fact we shall live for evermore because of what this baby Jesus went on to do on the Cross.

 What is it about doubting people? Why does Christianity strike such fear in their tiny minds?  Why do they not have the courage to attack other faiths?  Does a guilty conscience come into play when they consider the sort of lives they live?  Why is it that they have no reluctance to join in all the festivities, which only take place because Christmas is an essentially Christian celebration?   If you take Christ out of Christmas, all you have left is M & S

 The vociferous secularists and humanists, whose publicity is out of all proportion to their tiny numbers, see any religious ceremony as a threat to their unworthy cause.  Is it not amazing that when an American evangelist came over here and offered to enter into debate with them, they all went into hibernation refusing to take part?

 Christians will be attending Christmas services.  Some will be attending Midnight Mass, a glorious inspiring service of praise, as we herald in Christmas Day and celebrate the birth of our Lord.  Others will prefer to go to Church on Christmas morning, but at whichever service we will be thinking of God’s love in sending Jesus here, born of a young Jewish girl by the power of the Holy Spirit, in which we all glory.  I know that there will be difficulty for some in accepting the doctrine of the Virgin birth, which means of course they must explain how Jesus entered the world and then they could be on dangerous grounds. 

 We remember the lowly circumstances of His birth and the reason He came, namely to grow into manhood and be our Saviour.

 It is a matter of great sadness that now in the 21st century, the mass of people have forsaken the Christian commitment of previous years and chosen to ignore the religious significance of Christmas.  Some reject all religious belief with undisguised contempt, and just see it as an excuse for an orgy of drink and pleasure.

 I look in amazement as I see trolleys in supermarkets  overflowing with food and drink, especially drink, and then hear and read of how protests are made regarding cuts by the government and how people are finding it hard to exist, and certainly cannot afford to pay more for their gold plated pensions.

I accept everyone is entitled to have enjoyment, especially at this time of year, but let us keep it in proportion.  There will be many who just now see Christmas as a secular time for enjoyment. 

 But let us remember with much compassion those for whom Christmas is a time of great sadness, namely those who have just lost a married partner, a child, parent or loved family member.  This will be a very lonely time for them and we should remember them in prayers and intercessions.

 I wish all who read this posting a very happy and blessed Christmas; and in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. May God Bless You


                                                     Christmas message

 I thank all who have turned to this site over the last year and read the words in the postings.

 I wish you all a very happy, peaceful and blessed Christmas, and hope you will join me again at the end of next week.

 The response from the United States has been over the years, an overwhelming factor and source of much encouragement, especially as often the content is often relating to the United Kingdom.  Well might I say therefore, God bless America!

I would very much like to hear from any of you in any of the countries who kindly look at the sermons, and so know the names and places at least of who is interested.

 I hope those of you who kindly read from the UK will tell your friends, especially members of your Churches.


























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