From: Su Min
How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called the children of God. And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it does not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:1-2).
What a wonderful promise! What a wonderful God!
Today we continue with the rest of Chapter 1 in "The Gospel according to Saint Matthew" as the book is entitled in the King James Version.
Verse 18 plainly describes that this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother, betrothed to marry Joseph, was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. There are two major accounts of this event recorded for us in the bible, one here in Matthew, and the second in Luke 2:1-6. Read together, and with the leading up passages and subsequent passages, they allow us to piece together the events that we traditionally recall every Christmas: Bethlehem, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, the star, the manger, the Holy Child.
The immaculate conception is predicted to Mary by the angel Gabriel when her elderly cousin Elizabeth (?60 years old) was 6 months pregnant (Luke 1:35). But how?
The angel's answer speaks to Mary and to the modern sceptic equally clearly: Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 2:37).
If God can create heaven and earth and all that is on the earth, all that is in the air and all that is in the sea and all that is under it, and if God can create the sun and the moon and the stars, if God can create Adam and Eve, surely the immaculate conception is a miracle that he can wrought if he so chooses. Some critics allege that that Mary was impregnated by a human, whether Joseph or another person, and the tale was made up as a cover up story. Controversy also covers the death and resurrection of Jesus. You are to say "his disciples came during the night and stole him away while he was asleep" (Matt 28:13).
The bible records that it happened as it says. We as Christians accept these truths as fundamental. They are stated as truths in the word of God, and the Word of God does not lie. Indeed if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Cor 15:19-20).
Isaiah had more to say of this child:
- Vs 19. Joseph was a righteous man. A righteous man would not go through marriage to a girl suddenly found to be pregnant. Nor would he want to make her a public spectacle by divorcing her in front of all and sundry. So Joseph respectably decided to quietly put her away.
- Vs 20. But God had plans for Joseph. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Joseph is instructed to take Mary home as his wife. The baby has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And he is to be called Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
- years later Jesus was to be rapturously welcomed when he entered Jerusalem on donkey (Matt 21:9): many of the crowd mistakenly thought that he had come to save them from the Roman tyranny. But the angel had said it correctly. His was the greater saving. He had come to conquer death. He had come to buy them, with his blood, the gift of eternal life. He indeed had come to save his people from their sin.
- vs 22/23 Matthew declares the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 7:14.
- vs 24/45 Joseph was a righteous man. He was right with God. Hew walked with God. And when the angel of the Lord spoke to him, he listened, heard and obeyed. Mary was brought home as his wife, and she gave birth to a son, and he was named Jesus.
For to us a child is bornWe praise God for fulfilling this promise.
(a human child, born of a human mother)
to us a son is given
(conceived of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was son of God)
and the government will be upon His shoulders
And He will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Let us close in prayer.
Abba, thank you for your lesson today.Su Min
Thank you for showing us the real Christmas story, so different from the glittering sweetness that the commercial world tries to offer.
Thank you for the examples of Joseph and Mary.
They did not fully understand what was happening, but they were obedient and faithful.
Teach us to be faithful and obedient, O God.
Thank you for sending Jesus to save us from our sins.
Teach us, Father, what it means to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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