What to Expect

What to Expect, it’s a question we’ve all asked when doing God’s will. Jesus said in John 16:33~…In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (NIV) He never said easy was the way, and we are reminded again in today’s passage of Matthew 2. Nothing in chapter 2 describes Jesus Himself, rather Matt’s purpose is to stress the kind of reception Messiah receives from a hostile world. Nothing has changed in our current culture either, because the lost world is still antagonistic towards Jesus and His followers. 

Peter preaches 30 years, telling others of his eyewitness encounter to the power and presence of Messiah. 2 Peter 3:16-17~For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus, eyewitnesses of his majesty, from God the Father…(ESV) 2 Peter 3:17-19~…This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…borne from heaven …we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place…(ESV) Into a dark world, shone a great light (Isaiah 9:2). This week we are going to look into the light of Christ, we learn what to expect when doing God’s will. 

Today, let’s begin by thanking the Lord for all He has done, giving us freedom in Jesus Chris His son.

Believe it or not

Before Mary and Joseph had a physical relationship, Mary was with child. Joseph knows the child is not his. Since he is Mary’s husband (fiancé) and is a just man, he doesn’t want to disgrace her publicly. Therefore, he decides to privately divorce her, or break off the engagement Matthew 1:19~Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. (ESV) In Jewish culture, marriage vows were declared at betrothal, like a proclamation at the engagement, and divorce was required to end the relationship. After the engagement declaration, there was an interval of a year before the bride would live with the groom and the marriage be physically consummated. Joseph like Mary also doubts the Virgin Birth. But as he Ponders, considering the situation, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream to bolster his faith. I tell you God always knows the right thing to say to us in the moment of our greatest need, He shares perfectly. For Joseph, an angel tells him don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. Saints we need to learn the art of reflection as we practice solitude and ponder God. Matthew 1:20~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. (ESV)

In Joseph’s dream the angel goes on to share how Mary will bear a son and he is to name Him Jesus, meaning the Jehovah is salvation (Matthew 1:21). That is why we say Jesus Saves. He is God’s salvation for all humanity. Philippians 2:9~Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, (NIV) That name is Jesus and the angel explains the purpose for the name, Matthew 1:21~…Jesus, for He, will save His people from their sins. (ESV) In these opening verses, Matt explains Jesus did not come to save His people from Roman tyranny, the oppression of poverty, or to set up an earthly kingdom, rather Jesus came to save His people from their sins. 

Moreover, the angel says in Matthew 1:22~So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, (ESV) That prophet is Isaiah, who some 700 years earlier said in Isaiah 7:14~Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (NIV) God has shared His plan with us, and Matt unpacks it for us by saying that God has come to live with us. His desire is to live in our heart and go where we go as we dutifully fulfill His divine design each day of our lives. When Immanuel was given to us, it wasn’t used as a proper name like Jesus, or a title like Christ or Messiah, rather it describes Jesus as the incarnate son of God—who in coming to earth in flesh and blood becomes our sacrificial lamb. Listen to how John explains this John 1:14~So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (NLT)

When Joseph wakes, he does as the angel of the Lord commands even though, like Mary, it may be humiliating. Joseph does what all good husbands and fathers do, he takes Mary as his wife! Men what have you done lately to take care of your wives. Mary remains a virgin until after she gives birth to the only begotten son of God, Jesus Christ. You may ask why is the Virgin Birth so important to the Christian faith? Because Jesus Christ has to be free of the sinful nature which is passed on to all humans through the seed of Adam. The Bible explains the reason for this trouble is humanity is sinful, not just in theory or in practice by nature. Sin is part of the very fiber of our being. That is why the Bible speaks of sinful flesh in Romans 8:3, Colossians 3:5, and Romans 6:6, saying crucify it. Get sin out of your life!

Since the Bible reveals to us Joseph and Mary didn’t have normal marital relationships until after baby Jesus is born, this squelches any doubts about Jesus’ conception. Jesus Christ is the long-awaited Messiah who was born of a virgin, born Son of God. 

Our Takeaway this week is: Do you truly believe? Do you believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, who has come to take our sins away? Jesus declares in John 8:24~I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” (NIV) Not merely flesh and blood, but born something so much more. Jesus is the God-man, fully God and fully man. His enology bears out His place among the Jews and His conception and life bear out that He is the firstborn among many (Romans 8:29). Jesus is the risen Savior of the world. Do you truly believe in Jesus? Why not take time this day, to share how much you appreciate all that God has done in your life. Do this in song and let your heart tryout to the living Lord Jesus. 

Ready Set Wait

Today, we celebrate our independence as a nation, how 242 years ago we cast off the tyranny of taxation without representation. In light of that facet, let’s take a few moments to ponder our Lord and the independence we have been given from sin and it’s hold on our lives by becoming free in Jesus. (1:18-25) God reveals His sovereign grace by choosing Mary to be Jesus’ mother. Mary, to whom Jesus was born (1:16), was just a common, that is to say, ordinary woman. Her prized noteworthy characteristic is that she was very devout in her devotion to the Lord. We ought to take note of this because God loves to use those who are wholly devoted to Him and His will. Mary demonstrates her faith and submissiveness to God when the angel Gabriel is sent to tell her she will conceive a baby by the Holy Spirit. Fathom that she is a virgin, who is young, unmarried, and still willing to face the scrutiny of humiliation. Luke 1:38~”I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (NIV) That is a powerful faith!

The fact that Jesus was born to Mary, even though she’d had no physical relations with Joseph, or any man needs to be explained. Therefore, Matt highlights how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. While Mary and Joseph were engaged, vows were shared and they were in a courting type of relationship where for a year, they would get to know each other and build a healthy relationship for marriage, all of which took place before consummation, the physical union of their relationship. Matthew 1:18 ~Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother, Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

When the angel first announces to Mary that she is chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, she asks the obvious question, How? Telling the angel what he already knows, she is a virgin (Luke 1:34). So, Mary is the first person to doubt the Virgin Birth. Ponder this with me. When a young person says why should I wait? We can look at them and say with full confidence that God has a plan for your life, so wait until He shares what it is. Look at Mary she has questions as we all do. Yet, she chose to wait, and look at the amazing gift, the life that God had planned for her. Saints, we need to not just read and learn the Biblical story, but to internalize and ponder the significant difference they can make in our own lives.

Take time to push the world out and just ponder what God has done in sending us, Jesus. The Lamb of God got off of His throne and came to be robed in flesh and blood to show us the way and reveal that life eternal is for each and every one of us. Freedom always comes at the hands of sacrifice. Jesus Christ is that sacrifice for you, my friend, for all of humanity. By coming to earth, what He did was the greatest act of love and the difference He has made in our life is truly wonderful. Thank you, Jesus.