DAY FIVE (5 DEC 2020) - COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 1: 18
Extra readings: Isaiah 7: 14; Matthew 1: 18-25; 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20
The Christmas story through the lens of Matthew’s Gospel, that’s what we’ve been looking at over the last five days. Matthew goes to great lengths to establish Jesus’ Jewish credentials through presenting his human genealogy, next he shows how Jesus is the very fulfilment of the mysterious Isaiah 7: 14 prophecy. The genealogy instructs us as to who Jesus is, the next section informs us how he came to be born.
Although Jesus is 100% human, his conception is unlike that of any other human being. Matthew puts it this way, "While his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before she moved in with him, she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18, Complete Gospels). "Was found” implies a backstory, namely that it has become apparent that she was pregnant; the villagers have noticed. And so questions have begun to be asked. Gossip has started. Mary is not married, so what’s going on? What’s going on is that Isaiah 7: 14 is busy being fulfilled – “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Of course, who was going to believe that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Yes, the Scriptures did tell of how “the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters” in the beginning (Genesis 1: 2) and made everything..but clearly Mary had slept with someone other than Joseph, her betrothed, and the pregnancy was the result. Joseph could have demanded that Mary be stoned for that offense but he was a righteous man and so decided to simply break off the engagement quietly. Then a visit from an angel shattered his preconceived ideas about Mary and informed him that he was actually the Divinely designated protector of Mary and her miraculous child.
Oh, but the shame and humiliation Mary must have endured up to that moment. God certainly doesn’t promise us a rose garden of bliss when we choose to align ourselves with His purposes. Far from it. But look at the rewards! To be the earthly parents of God’s Messiah. Wow! A tough calling but an incredibly satisfying one. Do you want to be useful to God? Toughen up.
Lord Jesus, your life shows me that being one of your followers is no Sunday School picnic. Help me to accept that my life is not my own, I was bought with a price.
Here’s how you can do today’s devotional as a family