The final devotional in this Christmas series from Teaching the Word Ministries:
As Matthew records the historical fulfillment of God’s promised Word, we learn two important truths concerning God’s great work in accomplishing salvation for His people.
But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:20-23)
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew writes that the birth of Jesus fulfilled what Isaiah prophesied concerning the birth of Messiah six centuries earlier. So as we now come to the New Testament fulfillment, consider the true comfort of Christmas: God promised a supernatural sign that would confirm His covenant promise of salvation. This sign was to be the miraculous conception and supernatural birth of the Son whose name was IMMANUEL. As Matthew records the historical fulfillment of God’s promised Word, we learn two important truths concerning this great work of God in accomplishing salvation for His people. First, we learn of yet another name of this child to whom the virgin gave birth. Secondly, we learn the specific calling and mission of this divine Son.
The first great truth Matthew records for us is that this child is to be named JESUS. The name itself is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which literally means “Yahweh saves.” Again, the Scripture confirms for us that this is no ordinary human child, but He is to be given the very name of God himself – Yahweh, I AM, the covenant God of His own chosen people. This child is God come in the flesh, the second person of the Trinity, the divine Son, the Word, the Logos who is the exact image of the Father. But his name is not just Yahweh, but Yahweh Saves. This second part of the name, the verb, is in some respects even more glorious than the first part, for it is in that simple verb that we have the Gospel message so clearly presented to us.
God did not look down on man in his miserable condition and tell him to simply try to pull himself up by his own bootstraps. God did not tell man that man must save himself, or at least try to save himself. No, such words would be a mockery, for man has neither the ability nor the inclination to save himself from his sins. No, God looked upon man in his miserable condition, and we are told that He pitied and loved man and desired to save him from his sins. Oh, brother and sister, it is you and I whom He has pitied and loved. It is you and I whom Jesus was born to save. The very name given to this special son of Mary tells us that it is God alone who saves His people from their sins.
These thoughts bring us to the second truth Matthew records, and that is the special mission of Mary’s son: The angel prophesies that this Son is to have this special name because the purpose of His life is to save God’s people from their sin. Time and space prevent me from saying so much that could be said about these verses. But for now, simply let the words sink into your mind and consider their full force and meaning: God has chosen to give His son to be born of a virgin, a pure, sinless soul, a new Holy Man who shall live upon behalf of His people, fulfilling all of the Law in thought, word and deed – not to save Himself, but for His people as their representative in the flesh.
Then, this Holy Man, this Son of the living God, shall die the sinner’s death, taking upon Himself all the sins of His people, all the infinite wrath of God, all of the eternal punishment of Hell, so you and I might be saved from the wrath to come, and be called the sons of God, heirs with God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
This is what the birth of Jesus Christ signifies. This message is the comfort of Christmas. And consider this final thought, my friends: God promised this message many centuries before this Child was even born. The people of Isaiah’s day did not fully understand all the implications of that simple word. And we, even though we can look back upon the first advent of Christ, do not yet fully comprehend what it means to be the heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
But this we do know: God’s Word stands sure over the ages, and God’s Word was confirmed by the first coming of Christ. And therefore, the comfort of Christmas is not only that God kept His Word in the past, but that He shall keep His word in the days to come, even until the very end of age, when we shall be forever with the Lord.
Stephen M. Cope, a contributor to our Bible Knowledgebase, holds a B. A. in History and an M. A. in Church History from Bob Jones University and Seminary, and has completed most of the work for a Ph. D. in Church History and Theology. He currently lives in Taylors, South Carolina, and is seeking the Lord’s guidance concerning future ministry and service to Christ’s church.
TeachingtheWord Ministries www.teachingtheword.org
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