Matthew 1:18-25 The Birth of Jesus
Bible background: Only Matthew and Luke report Jesus’ birth. The Gospels of Mark and John do not. Matthew approaches Jesus’ birth from the perspective of Joseph-Jesus’ adoptive father. We read of Joseph’s dilemma and Joseph’s role. But the actually birth of Jesus takes up only 10 words! In Matthew’s account, dreams provide important revelations to Joseph about Jesus’ origins; about keeping the baby safe; and about settling down in Nazareth.
Digging Deeper: 1. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes: he and Mary are almost married; Mary is pregnant; Joseph knows he’s not the cause; plans are up in the air! What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What are your questions? What do you do?
2. Joseph’s “being a righteous man” is important. “Righteous” in the Greek and Hebrew means “one who keeps God’s law”, and it also means “one who seeks to make right relationships.” Joseph would have been within his rights to dump Mary, publicly. He chooses not to do that. His love for God and his love for Mary lead him to a different option: one that he gives up when in the dream he is told to take Mary for his wife, and not be afraid! When do you love to be ‘right’? When do you love to figure out the option that is right for all involved? And right in God’s sight?
3. “Do not be afraid!” is a frequent word in the biblical story! What is something going on in your life or in the world for which you need to hear “do not be afraid?”
4. Emmanuel means “God with us”. Jesus (Greek version of Joshua) means “Yahweh saves.” How does this nickname for Jesus, and the name Jesus, reveal who God is and what God is up to? How do you look for, expect, and experience God’s presence?
5. In this account, Mary’s situation, feelings, and thoughts, are not mentioned. (In Luke, they are!) She is not a ‘minor’ actor! How can we help make sure the voices of women are heard and listened to in the world today?
Prayer: Holy God, our plans get changed; things happen; we wonder how to be faithful and righteous like Joseph. Show us how we can choose faith over fear. Show us how you are with us. And then let us represent you clearly and gladly to those who cannot imagine that you really are with us in this world, and through everything that happens to us in life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.