Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Revelation to Joseph

Sermon / Homily on St. Matthew 1: 18-25

The Birth of Jesus - Gospel Analysis

by Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Seattle, WA

Scripture: St. Matthew 1: 18-25

-Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.

-When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. This is another reference to the virgin birth. We have already studied the concept of the virgin birth. Both Matthew and Luke have the virgin birth as part of their infancy stories.

-Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. This is a wonderful story about the sensitivity and kindness of Joseph. He was not going to embarrass Mary.

“Joseph was unwilling to expose her to public disgrace and put her to shame.”

That line tells us much about Joseph. He didn’t want to hurt Mary. He didn’t want to destroy her. He was not punitive. He was not revengeful. He wasn’t out for a pound of her flesh. Instead, Joseph had these feelings of grace towards her, and so he resolved to divorce her quietly. Not tell her parents. Not tell his parents. Not tell the Jewish rabbi. Not tell the Jewish court so he could get his money back.

This story about the birth of Jesus is a story of compassion, a story of grace, a story of a man who had been enormously violated by a pregnant woman and he vowed not to punish her. He had been deeply violated, yet he still cared for her and took care of her.

-But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, Matthew’s logic is appealing to fellow Jews and a Jewish mindset that appreciated and valued God’s revelation through dreams.

-"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. This is another reference to the virgin birth.

An angel or divine messenger appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Mary is pregnant by the Spirit of God. The Spirit hovered over her and she is now pregnant. You are to marry her and name the child Jesus for he will save the people from their sins. Call him Immanuel because God is always with us.” And so Joseph remained with Mary because he believed the dream and the message of the angel.

The primary purpose of the story is not to tell us that Joseph was religious or righteous. The primary purpose of the story is to tell us that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. That is the point of the story. Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. He was the legal father. He was the adopted father. But he was not the biological father of Jesus and that is what the story is all about.

-She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." At the core of Christian theology is the awareness that Christ died on the cross to pay for the penalty for our sins, a penalty that we ourselves could not pay.

-All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: In Matthew’s Gospel, there are sixteen times when the author says: “This took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet (or by the Old Testament).” In other words, this logic appealed to a Jewish audience. It was said of Jesus that he was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. This logic helped a Jewish audience believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.

Each author used a logic that “made sense” to the reasoning of his audience. Luke does not say that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy because that reasoning would not have made to sense to his world-wide audience which was not familiar with the Old Testament concepts.

-"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." Again, this is fundamental. We in a modern world believe deeply that God is with us in all of our circumstances.

-When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. In his nocturnal dream life, Joseph listened to his angelic messenger and Joseh did not have sexual intercourse with Mary until the child was born. This is still another reference to the virgin birth in the Gospel of Matthew.

See Also:

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the Sunday of the Revelation to Joseph

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