Wednesday 7 December 2022

Matthew 1.  V 18/25

The birth of a baby is a major event in the lives of a mother and father. The anticipation of the birth is exciting, and together they look forward joyously to the arrival of their union. There is of course always the possibility something may go wrong, adding to the stress and pain the mother will endure. I regret many men do not fully realize how a woman has emotional as well as physical pain when giving birth to a child.


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


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. At first she challenged this as she had not been with a man, but was told she, a young Jewish village girl had found favour with God.


Joseph may have come 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 show 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.


.At that time the Roman governor had ordered a census, requiring all people to register for taxation purposes. David being from Bethlehem had to go there to register, and take Mary with him. Whilst they were there the time came for Jesus to be born.  There were many people in that city, and all places were filled, and there was no room at an Inn they visited, so Mary was forced to bear Jesus in a manger The birth of this baby. who would one day become Lord and King of the earth, was one of the lowest kind, no palace, no royal robes.


God sent an angel to shepherds, watching their flocks at night time, and they were told of the birth at Bethlehem, so they went with haste. They praised God for having let them see the child.


The whole purpose of Jesus coming to the earth was to save us, acting as a ransom to pay the price of our sins. We must thank God for his goodness.  The angel returned to heaven, and the shepherds went back glorifying God. He had made shepherds as evangelists, and like the Apostles of Jesus, there was not one who held a degree. As a cynic once stated, the Church is sinking by degrees.  


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  treat such talk with the contempt they deserve.


It is talk like that which does so much harm to the Church. 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, by faith..


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,you can watch an event in any part of the world as it happens..How can a brown cow eat green grass and produce white milk? We cannot understand such things, but we still accept them without further thought. Yet we don't accept God does wonderful things; member the words of Mary, with God, all things are possible.

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-- Christmas. 


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.

Above all trust in God and let this Christmas be one in which we remember the person it is all about—

The Lord Jesus Christ.


May you all have a happy and blessed Christmas 

No comments:

Post a Comment