The American Wisdom Series

Matthew #2501b

Matthew now tells us a little of the "Christmas Story".

Matthew 1:18
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Of course we know that Joseph was not Jesus' natural father. God was! And Matthew is going to tell us how that came to be! The word "Now" which begins this verse means "Now (in contrast to the "begettals" above). It happened like this (on this wise). Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they did the "husband and wife thing" she was found to be already pregnant!

Wow! This was "shocking news" to Joseph, who we will read in the next verse was a "just man". You see, the penalty for an adulterous affair willingly committed by a virgin who is engaged to be married, is to be stoned to death. Here is the law concerning this matter:

Deut. 22:23
If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;

[24] Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

This law of stoning pertains to a betrothed virgin who "willingly" commits adultery. (The words "she cried not" means that it was consensual sex, i.e. she did it willingly.) If you remember when the scribes and Pharisees brought the woman who was caught in the act of adultery to Jesus and quoted this law, that "she should be stoned to death", Jesus KNEW that they were in grave error quoting the law, for He KNEW that the woman they brought to Him was a "married" woman and that stoning did not apply to married women as it did to virgins who were betrothed! So instead of just exposing their Biblical ignorance to the crowd, He kneeled down in the dirt and wrote the "correct law" pertaining to a married woman, which actually required action on the part of the Priests. So now that the Pharisees KNEW full well that she couldn't be stoned (or they would be BREAKING THE LAW of Moses themselves) Jesus stood up and said, "Let he who is WITHOUT SIN cast the first stone! Ha, ha! They couldn't stone her because of the law... but now instead of just looking like "buffoons" (Biblical illiterates) to the crowd, they appeared as SINNERS too, which is a tough, embarrassing thing for self-righteous hypocrites to endure!

Nevertheless, as you can see this was no small matter for Joseph to consider. He therefore decided instead to give her a writ of divorcement according to Deut. 41:1, which was to "put her away" privily!

Mat. 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
But wait! Time for a little Divine intervention.
[20] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
The word "conceived" is the same Greek word "gennao" translated "begotten" in vs. 2, 16, & 18, and should be rendered as such.
[21] And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Mary would "bring forth" (tikto) a son, not bear a child to Joseph because Jesus was not his son. And again, Jesus means "God's Savior" or "Yah-shua" in Hebrew.
[22] Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Why was Jesus birth "on this wise"? To FULFILL the prophecies concerning Him... AS A SIGN to document that He was indeed Emmanuel, God with us! Here is the verse quoted from Isa. 7:14 which was fulfilled:
[23] Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Here is the original prophecy:
Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
The very manner of His birth was a fulfillment of prophecy and it was fulfilled in the "virgin" whose name was Mary.
Matthew 1:24
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
There was no doubt whatsoever in the mind of Joseph that this was a message from God, unlike Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist who doubted the angel of the Lord when he told him that Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son.
[25] And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Don't think "staying away" from his beautiful young wife was not a "trial" for Joseph! (Of course I speak as a man.) Good thing he had that visit from the angel to help increase his faith. Nevertheless, give Joseph credit for faithfully following through as God had instructed him, and naming the boy JESUS.

In our next study we shall see "wise men" asking the very first question in the New Testament, namely, "Where is He That is born King of the Jews?" Whoever they were, these wise men must have been men of substance or renown or both, for Herod the king will become very upset by the nature of their inquiry!

To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.

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