Summary: The Virgin Birth 1) Conceived (Matthew 1:18), 2) Confronted (Matthew 1:19–20), 3) Clarified, (Matthew 1:21) 4) Connected (Matthew 1:22-23), and 5) Consummated (Matthew 1:24-25).
One of the most famous Christmas stories is entitled: "THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS", written by either Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston. It begins: ’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap", http://www.christmas-tree.com/stories/nightbeforechristmas.html
These visions of sugar-plums seem quite strange to the modern ear. The concept of a virgin birth is even more removed from our modern medical minds. Joseph, Jesus’ father, was told of such in a dream. The virgin birth is voiced in all ecumenical confessions of the church, beginning with the Apostles’ Creed: “Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.” (Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (38). Minneapolis, MN.: Augsburg Publishing House.)
Even had He wanted to do so, how could God have explained to us, in terms we could comprehend, how such a blending of the divine and human could have been accomplished? We could no more fathom such a thing than we can fathom God’s creating the universe from nothing, His being one God in three Persons, or His giving an entirely new spiritual nature to those who trust in His Son. Understanding of such things will have to await heaven, when we see our Lord “face to face”.
After establishing Jesus’ human lineage from David, Matthew proceeds to show His divine “lineage.” That is the purpose of Matthew 1:18–25, which reveal five distinct truths about the virgin birth of Christ that "Prepare His Presence". We see the virgin birth 1) Conceived (Matthew 1:18), 2) Confronted (Matthew 1:19–20), 3) Clarified, (Matthew 1:21) 4) Connected (Matthew 1:22-23), and 5) Consummated (Matthew 1:24-25).
The virgin birth: 1)Conceived (Matthew 1:18)
Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. (ESV)
Birth is from the same Greek root as “genealogy” in verse 1, indicating that Matthew is here giving a parallel account of Jesus’ ancestry-this time from His Father’s side. Verse 1 has promised to reveal the “origin” of the Messiah, and the repetition of that word here shows that that promise is still being fulfilled.( France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (50). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.)
We have little information about Mary. It is likely that she was a native of Nazareth and that she came from a relatively poor family. From Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25 we learn she had a sister named Salome, the mother of James and John (who therefore were Jesus’ cousins). If, as many believe, the Eli (or Heli) of Luke 3:23 was Joseph’s father-in-law (Matthew gives Joseph’s father as Jacob, 1:16), then Eli was Mary’s father. We know that Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias, was Mary’s “relative” (Luke 1:36), probably her cousin. Those are the only relatives, besides her husband and children, of whom the New Testament speaks.
We know even less of Joseph than of Mary. His father’s name was Jacob (Matt. 1:16) and he was a craftsman, a construction worker (tektōn), probably a carpenter (Matt. 13:55). Most importantly, he was a “righteous man” (1:19), an Old Testament saint.
It is possible that both Joseph and Mary were quite young when they were betrothed. Girls were often betrothed as young as twelve or thirteen, and boys when they were several years older than that. Although Joseph and Mary were only betrothed at this time (v. 18), he was considered her husband and she was considered his wife. The difference between our modern concept of “engagement” and that of first-century Jews is indicated by the description of Joseph already in v. 19 as Mary’s husband and by the use of the normal word for divorce to describe the ending of the engagement. Though the couple were not yet living together, it was a binding contract entered into before witnesses which could be terminated only by death (which would leave the woman a “widow”) or by divorce as if for a full marriage (m. Ketub. 4:2); sexual infidelity during the engagement would be a basis for such divorce. About a year after the engagement (m. Ketub. 5:2; Ned. 10:5) the woman (then aged normally about thirteen or fourteen) would leave her father’s home and go to live with the husband in a public ceremony (such as is described in 25:1–12), which is here mentioned by the phrase “before they came together” and will be recorded in v. 24.( France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (50). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.)