Summary: In this sermon, as we consider the arrival of the king, we see the dilemma of Mary, the distress of Joseph, the directive of the angel, the declaration of the prophet, and the decision of Joseph.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent. For this season of Advent I am preaching a series of sermons titled, “The Advent of the King,” which is based on Matthew’s Gospel chapters 1 and 2.
The apostle Matthew wrote his Gospel for the Jews. His purpose in writing this Gospel was to show that Jesus really was the expected King of the Jews.
Last week we looked at “The Ancestry of the King” in Matthew 1:1-17, and we learned about the human ancestry of Jesus.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
The Bible contains a record of some remarkable births.
For example, Isaac was born to Sarah when she was nearly one hundred years old and long past the age of conceiving a child (Genesis 17:16).
Samson was born to Manoah’s sterile and childless wife (Judges 13:2-3).
Samuel the prophet and anointer of kings was born to Hannah, who was also sterile and childless (1 Samuel 1:2; 1:19-20).
John the Baptist was born to Elizabeth—Mary’s relative—who was not only barren but also well along in years (Luke 1:7; 1:57).
But none of these births come close to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Actually, Jesus’ birth was as normal as any other child’s birth. What is remarkable about Jesus is his conception.
Theologians talk about the Virgin Mary and the Virgin Birth of Jesus. By that they mean that Mary was still a virgin at the time of Jesus’ birth; she had become pregnant supernaturally without the aid of any human being. And so, while it is okay to talk about the Virgin Mary and the Virgin Birth of Jesus, it seems to me that it would be more accurate to talk about the Supernatural Conception of Jesus. However, I doubt that my proposal will change millennia of tradition!
As I said earlier, Matthew’s purpose in writing his Gospel was to show that Jesus really was the expected King of the Jews. Jesus’ deity was constantly denied. One of the first attacks against his divine nature had to do with his conception. It is likely that people accused Mary of becoming pregnant by some man. Matthew’s goal in writing this account of the conception and birth of Jesus was to set the record straight about what really happened.
Matthew tells us in verse 18: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.” Technically, Matthew tells us little about the birth but much more about the events surrounding the Supernatural Conception of Jesus.
Matthew gives very few details about what happened. We would love to have many more details, but the scarcity of details actually adds to Matthew’s credibility regarding the Supernatural Conception of Jesus.
And so, today, as we consider the arrival of the king, I want us to see:
1. The Dilemma of Mary (1:18),
2. The Distress of Joseph (1:19),
3. The Directive of the Angel (1;20-21),
4. The Declaration of the Prophet (1:22-23), and
5. The Decision of Joseph (1:24-25).
I. The Dilemma of Mary (1:18)
First, notice the dilemma of Mary.
Matthew begins his account by saying, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph” (1:18a).
Following ancient custom Mary was pledged to be married, or betrothed, to Joseph. It is quite likely that Mary was as young as twelve or thirteen years old, and Joseph could have been an older teenager, perhaps eighteen or nineteen years old.