Bible reading: Matthew 1:18–25
Today we reflect on the Christmas story from the man’s perspective – we see how Joseph reacted to the news that Mary was going to have a baby, and how God directly intervened.
Mary and Joseph were real people who lived in real time in the real world. And, like a normal man who has discovered his betrothed is pregnant when he knows that he has not slept with her, Joseph assumes the worst. The Bible is not a mythical book or a dream world where strange things happen and people think them completely normal. Joseph understands biology and he does the kindest thing he can think of – he decides to break off the relationship quietly before the marriage. Matthew calls Joseph a ‘righteous man’ in this course of action. But imagine how Mary must have felt. She too lived in real time in the real world.
But then a kairos event takes place. The time for God’s dramatic intervention has come, and Joseph has a dream in which an angel of the Lord appears to him. It is only after this miraculous experience that Joseph believes that Mary’s Son is the Messiah. The angel is explicit with Joseph: ‘… what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’ (v.20). But it is not only Mary who has been selected for a significant role – Joseph too has been chosen to play a major part in redemption’s story. His time has come. Joseph is told, ‘… you are to give him the name Jesus.’ Resonant of Adam in Genesis 1, who was given the role of naming that which God had made, now that God Himself is entering into His creation as a man, Joseph is given the awesome task of naming Him. His name will describe what He has come to do. He is to be called Jesus ‘because he will save his people from their sins’ (v.21).
Matthew reminds us that these are new events, but are also the fulfillment of prophecies given much earlier in time. Isaiah had spoken 700 years earlier, and now what he had prophesied was coming to pass. All the anticipation, hope and waiting were over, the time had come. ‘Immanuel – God with us’ was now a reality.
Pause to reflect:
Jesus arrival in the world meant that God was with His people. This happened in history, but it is true for all believers in all times. As Jesus Himself promises believers at the end of this same Gospel: ‘… I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Allow that truth to sink in today. Established in history, Immanuel, God with us, continues to the present day and into the future.
Immanuel, God with us, I worship You today
Immanuel, God with us, I recognise Your coming in history
Immanuel, God with us, I wonder at the truth that You are God and Man
Immanuel, God with us, I welcome Your presence here today
Immanuel, God with us, I trust in You and lean on You as I face the coming days
Immanuel, God with us, I worship You today Amen
1. Joseph was a real person, an ordinary man to whom something extraordinary happened. Have you allowed the ‘physical world’ and the ‘spiritual world’ to be separated in your thinking? How can you welcome the truth of Jesus into you everyday working life?
2. What difference would it make in your daily life if you leant on Immanuel, God with us?