The Gospel of Mathew: Consider what is Conceived.

20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21 ESV)

“But as he considered these things.”  Joseph had a lot to think about. Had Mary been unfaithful? Her pregnancy indicated so. How should he respond? The Law was clear. She should be publicly stoned to death as the Mosaic Law prescribed (Deut. 22:23-24). However, Joseph decided to privately divorce her (Deut. 24:1). This would be the gracious thing to do; for all concerned.

We do not know how long Joseph thought about this. What we do know that as he did an “angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” This would be the first of five dreams Joseph would have from the Lord (Matt. 1:20; 2:12, 13, 19, 22). The angel is not identified, but is assumed to be Gabriel (Luke 1:18-19, 26-38).  

“But we must understand that dreams of this sort differ widely from natural dreams; for they have a character of certainty engraved on them and are impressed with a divine seal; so that there is not the slightest doubt of their truth. The dreams from God are accompanied by the testimony of the Spirit, which puts beyond a doubt that it is God who speaks,” explains John Calvin.

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife.” The angel acknowledged what Matthew already revealed. Joseph was in the lineage of not only Abraham, but also David (Matt. 1:1-17). The angel told Joseph to not be afraid to become Mary’s husband. Why would Joseph be afraid? Embarrassed? Yes! Doubtful? Certainly!

But why does the angel caution Joseph to not be afraid? Perhaps it was because Joseph did not want to violate God’s law (Deut. 22:23-24). This would certainly be an example of him being a just and righteous man. The angel instructed Joseph to complete the betrothal period and then participate in the official wedding ceremony; officially uniting him to Mary as husband and wife.

The reason for this was because “that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” The angel summarized what Luke in his Gospel revealed in detail (Luke 1:26-38). A divine act occurred. Mary was pregnant with Immanuel; solely by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.  

The angel further said, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”There are three facts to observe in this brief statement.

First, Mary would bear a son. In our day and age of prenatal, ultrasound imagery, an unborn child’s gender can be observed and known prior to their birth. This was not the case 2,000 years ago. The angel’s news spoke of the supernatural event that was unfolding.

Second, the angel directed Joseph to call the unborn boy Jesus. The was significant because the name Jesus means Savior (Luke 1:31). The long-prophesied Messiah was to be the Savior of sinners.

Third, the angel stated the obvious. This son, who was to be named Jesus, will save His people from their sins. He was to be the deliverer of sinners from the penalty, power and eventual presence of their sin.

“When the Son of God came to us clothed in flesh, he received from the Father a name which plainly told for what purpose He came, what was His power, and what we had a right to expect from Him. The name Jesus presents to us the Son of God as the Author of salvation,” states John Calvin.

Soli deo Gloria!

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