Insights from Mathew: Behold Immanuel

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” Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).

Christmas came and went but the miracle of Christmas, God with us, leaves an eternal impact. God, who is transcendent, the creator of time and space, invades time and space and he comes through a miraculous act of the Holy Spirit on a young lady named Mary, in the form of a baby named Jesus. WOW! Down through the centuries, we have attempted to make this look cute with our porcelain nativity scenes, children’s Christmas musicals and traditions, not that I don’t enjoy those things. But that first Christmas was scandalous. A young woman who was almost married, but not quite, pregnant without having sex, having to explain to her husband to be, she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Imagine being in Joseph’s shoes. To say Joseph is confused and hurt is an understatement. Joseph was planning to break it off quietly until we have divine intervention, grace. God sends an angel to tell Joseph it’s all true, get married and name Him Jesus. What does Joseph do? Exactly what God tells him to do. It could be said of Joseph what was said of Abraham, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:3).

The scene of the first Christmas certainly appeared scandalous, but so was Jesus family tree. We see the good the bad and the ugly in Jesus’ lineage.  There were some heroes of the faith like Abraham, David, and Boaz. There were evil kings like Abijah, Jehoram, and Ahaz. We have the heroes, the zeroes, but we also have 4 women mentioned, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Mary and 1 woman alluded to Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. The women mentioned are all involved in scandalous situations and 4 of the five are Gentiles. Gentiles in the line of the Messiah? A Gospel to the Gentiles? Scandalous indeed.

After Jesus is born, in Matthew 2, we don’t find the Jewish nation flood the town of Bethlehem searching for the Messiah, even though they know the situation and explain to Herod where the Messiah is to be born,

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, ” In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘ And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel. (Matt. 2:3-6)

We don’t see the Jewish leaders searching for the King. We find wise men from the East, Gentiles, searching for the King so they can worship Him. Scandalous!

Could this be? A Gospel that includes the Gentiles? There are certainly missional trails throughout the Old Testament,

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isa. 49:6)

And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. (Zech. 2:11)

There are numerous more, but not only do we find a Gospel for the world in the Old Testament. We also find clues, God is doing something among the Gentiles in Matthew chapters 1 and 2. Four Gentile women in the lineage of Christ, wise men from the East, full blown Gentiles, worshipping a Jewish Messiah. A salvation which reaches the ends of the earth, for all peoples, nations, tribes and tongues. God’s plan from the beginning was to send Jesus to save the nations, to save you. Scandalous Grace indeed.

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you (I Peter 1:20)

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria

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