The Birth of Christ in Matthew 1: The Angel Announces
By Nathan Jones
First Coming of Christ
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
The Angel Announces
Nathan Jones: Some of the most amazing Bible prophecies were fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ!
Vic Batista: The prophecies concerning the Messiah’s birth can be found all over Old Testament Bible prophecy. We are going to study through this prophetic fulfillment by looking at a very familiar Christmas story found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter one verses 21-23. This is the story of Mary and Joseph and how they came to learn in the most amazing way that they would have a child named Jesus. There were told by an angel! The passage reads:
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’”
Matthew 1 announces the coming fulfillment of Christ in prophecy. In verses 21-23 there are a number of titles that are given to this child.
Nathan Jones: To provide a little background, 2,000 years ago God sent His Son to earth to become both man yet at the same time still divine. He did this so that God could walk, talk, and relate to mankind on our level just as He did in the Garden of Eden. Eventually the Son grew up and sacrificed Himself on the cross for our sins, then beat death by resurrecting from the dead. And so, when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we shall be saved from our sins and the punishment of Hell.
At this early point in Matthew’s narrative, God sends an angel to deliver a message to a young woman named Mary. Likely Mary was a teenager because she is a virgin. Back in the First Century, women would marry very young, sometimes even as young as 14 or 15 years old. To think Mary was a young teenager! I have a daughter who is 15 and it is rather scary to think of my little girl giving birth, much less than to the God of the universe. But, in an era when most people matured and aged quicker and also died young, teen marriage was the norm. They died younger so they married younger.
Mary is still living with her parents when she’s told that she will bear a child. And, this child would be conceived miraculously, having nothing to do with a man. The man Joseph that Mary was betrothed to would not provide the seed, but life would spring from the Holy Spirit Himself. Mary would give birth to the Son by God by the Holy Spirit.
Vic Batista: That’s a very good point about Mary being so very young, for I’ve seen different pictures of Mary and she’s often depicted as looked much older, like near 30. Regardless, the Bible makes it very clear that Mary was a very young woman, and she was a virgin. Why is it so important that the mother of the Messiah would be a virgin?
Nathan Jones: If her son was conceived just like any other person due to the sexual union of a man and woman, then where is the miracle in that? Where would be the miracle in a normal conception?
The true miracle can actually be found in a prophecy which Gabriel recites in Matthew 1:22 with “Behold, a virgin.” The prophecy requires a virgin, in other words, a woman who has never had sexual intercourse with a man in order to “be with child and bear a son.”
This prophecy goes back centuries in the Bible, back to the book of Isaiah. Isaiah was a prophet who lived around 700 BC. In 714 BC this prophecy was recorded in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” The name Immanuel means “God with us.” Isaiah was given a prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, and that’s a prophecy pronounced 700 years before His birth!
Vic Batista: Fulfilled prophecy is the reason why we can trust the Bible. We can trust the prophecies in the Bible because they are always fulfilled, even prophesied 700+ years before their future fulfillment!
Nathan Jones: Only God could so accurately and specifically describe the future way back in the distant past. For God time is meaningless. He knows the beginning from the end, the Bible says. While people are stuck to a timeline in that we have a beginning and we move forward along that timeline, God is timeless. God was never born and He will never die. Time is something that He created and He interacts at different periods of history as He chooses.
What so amazes me is how often the Bible prophesies in the past tense like the future fulfillment has already been accomplished. God has planned from the beginning of the formation of the world that He would send His Son to die as the sacrifice for our sins.
Vic Batista: How very encouraging! Fulfilled prophecy gives the believer in Christ hope for the future. What a specific prophecy Isaiah 7:14 is when it pointedly describes a virgin giving birth, an act apart from God that’s biologically impossible. And, according to Matthew 1:18 and following, a virgin giving birth is exactly what had happened, because the Angel Gabriel next came to Joseph to clarify what happened to Mary.
Nathan Jones: The situation was hard on Joseph. In that time period, for a woman to get pregnant outside of marriage was utterly scandalous. Mary and Joseph were betrothed. They were engaged to each other, but in that First Century time period and in that culture betrothal was a lot more concrete than it is today. When you get engaged today and you decide to break it off, that’s fine, there’s no legal ramifications. But, back then, betrothal was more of a contract, and even though there was no sexual relations as yet involved, the couple was still legally bound as husband and wife. For Mary to get pregnant during this engagement period would have been considered an act of adultery.
Upon learning that Mary is pregnant, Joseph is very perplexed, and likely very hurt and angry as well. The Scriptures say a few verses earlier in verse 19 that he “being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” Joseph wanted to divorce her secretly and quietly so as not to bring any shame upon her. That act shows us what a just man Joseph was, and the Bible even says he was a just man. Joseph loved Mary and didn’t want her publicly humiliated.
At the same time, Joseph and her family, except maybe her cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias, were shocked by the news of Mary’s pregnancy. They likely wondered if some Roman had raped Mary, or maybe she and Joseph couldn’t handle themselves before they should have. Neither was the case. The prophetic miracle would be that a virgin shall give birth, and conception in a virgin was exactly what happened.
I would exhort Christians to really take the Virgin Birth seriously. The Virgin Birth is absolutely essential to the Christian faith, because without it there would be no divine, prophetic miracle.
Vic Batista: This fulfilled prophecy is why Christmas is so important to the world. Christmas is more than just giving presents, and it’s far more important than decorating a pine tree. Christmas is far more than twinkle lights, food, and fellowship. Christmas is the miracle that changed the world forever!
Nathan Jones: “God with us.” That is what Emmanuel means. Now, Jesus was rarely if ever called Emmanuel by the people, but that is one of His many, many names. God is with us because the second part of the God-head — God the Son — came to earth to dwell with Man.
How can God have a son, for that is what Jesus is? Does God reproduce? The book of John makes it clear that Jesus as the Word was around before time began, and He was with God, but also was God. So, how does God reproduce? Who knows! We are just going to have to ask Him when we get to Heaven.
It could be that when God came in the flesh, that part of Him was referred to as the closest parallel mankind could understand — a son. It may have been like this. If you want to understand an ant, you have to become one. Look at an ant mound. You’ll see the ants running crazily about to a fro. Say you want to talk to an ant, well you can’t talk to an ant, you would have to become an ant. You could then go down to their mound and live with them in order to learn their language and communicate with them.
That is what God had to do. He had to become a man. He put on flesh. He was born of a virgin. He experienced what it was like to go through life’s ups and downs and the sufferings and the trials. He was thirsty. He was hungry. He was tempted. By experiencing life as a man, God could relate to His creations on their level, and they in turn could approach God and understand Him much better in return.
In the second part of this study on the birth of Christ found in Matthew 1, we’ll examine Satan’s lost war against God.