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Sunday, December 15, 2019

posted Dec 15, 2019, 7:44 PM by Site Administrator





Matthew 1:1-25

Key Verse 1:23


The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means, God with us.


First, the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David, the Son of Abraham (1-17). Look at verse 1. A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham. In the New Testament, there are two places which talk about Jesus genealogy – one in Lukes gospel, and the other is this Matthews gospel. Luke was a Greek, and he emphasized the Universal Messiahship of Jesus. So in Lukes gospel, Jesus genealogy traces back all the way to Adam, the first man. But in Matthews gospel, Jesus genealogy starts from Abraham, the beginning of Israel people, because the main audience the author Matthew targeted on was the Jews. Here, hesuggests Abraham and David as two representatives of Jesusgenealogy, proclaiming to the Jews that Jesus is their promised Messiah, whom God had mentioned to Abraham and David. God said to Abraham, Through your offspring, all peoples on earth will be blessed. Jesus brings blessings of God to all peoples on earth. God also said to David, When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2Sa 7:12-13David might think that God was talking about Solomon. But Solomons kingdom was long gone. God was actually talking about Jesus who would establish the eternal kingdom; Jesus is the king in the line of David forever. 


Many people make a decision to read the Bible, so they open the New Testament, and starts from the first book, the Matthews gospel, expecting something amazing and divine. But they are shocked at this long genealogy. Even before finishing this genealogy, they lose their interest and fall asleep. But this genealogy contains deep truth. In the genealogy, we find five women; usually, in the genealogy, people dont include women; the genealogy is the genealogy of men. But Jesus genealogy has five women, and three of them are non-Jewish women – Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. Tamar was a Canaanite woman, the daughter-in-law of Judah, but the son she bore through Judah, her father-in-law became Gods covenant person. Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute in Jericho when the general Joshua was going to destroy the city of Jericho. By faith in the God of Israel, she stood on Israels side, and hid the two Israelite spies from her own people. In human eyes, she was a national traitor, but God blessed her and she became the great grandmother of king David. Ruth was a Moabite woman, the descendants of Lot through his daughter – her background was very bad. But she entrusted her life in the God of Israel and came to Israel following her-mother-in-law. God blessed her and she became the grandmother of king David. All these three women had very suspicious background, but they had one thing in common that they sought God with all their hearts and strength, going far beyond common sense. They did not deserve to be used by God because of their suspicious life background. But when they sought God wholeheartedly, God accepted them and included them into the genealogy of the Messiah, the kings line. This is how God deals with people. We are not the Jews, not the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by blood. But God still accepts and blesses us when we seek him with all our hearts and strength. 


In verse 6, the author mentions about Solomon and his mother Bathsheba, saying, David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriahs wife. As the result of Davids adultery, Solomon was born. Usually, in a royal family, such a son is despised and isolated. But amazingly, God loved Solomon. David had many sons, but among all of them, Godchose Solomon to succeed David as king. We may wonder, Why? How come? We dont know why, yet, thats what God did, out of his immeasurable grace.  In genealogy, people record only splendid things to show off their family legacy and skip this kind of scandalous story. But the author Matthew intentionally talks about this, and other Gentile womens cases to show that the history of Israel is also the history of Gods grace. When we think about this carefully, we too see Gods amazing grace upon us. There were many others who were smarter than us, who were more sincere than us, who were more qualified than us. Yet, God chose us as his servants and does his work through us. We have nothing to brag about, but the grace of God upon our life.


In verse 17, the author divides the whole genealogy into three sections – fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen generations from David to the exile, and fourteen generations from the exile to the Christ. The first fourteen generations from Abraham to David shows Gods great vision for Israel people and their rejection. God called Abraham andtold him that He would make him into a great nation and that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him. In this vision, God wrestled with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and trained them. After taking the Israelites from Egypt, God told them what great vision he had for them, saying that they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for the whole world. A kingdom of priests is a nation all whose people are priests. Gods plan was to establish Israel as a kingdom of priests so that they would minister over all nations on earth; God indeed had a great plan. But, the Israel people rejected this grand vision of God upon their life; instead, they just wanted to be like other kingdoms around them, so they asked God to assign a human king over them. Thats how David came up. So, the first fourteen generations can be characterized as Gods great vision for the Israel people and their rejection of it. The second fourteen generations cover the whole monarchy of Judah (from David to the exile). This period can be described as the time of the prophets when God worked hard to warn Israel people and help them repent and accept His will through the prophets; but they rejected Gods will and became more and more worthless. God could not work with them any longer, so he destroyed them and sent them to the exile; despite Gods great vision and efforts for them, they failed completely. The third fourteen generationscover the time between the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, and the first book of the New Testament, Matthew – this period of time is called, Intertestamental period. During this time, God did not send his prophets to them; God remained silent. Since they were not available to work with Him, since they were not willing to accept His will for them, He worked all by himself behind the scene, proceeded the redemption workand completed it by sending Jesus to the world as the Christ. 


When we check out these three sections of the genealogy, we can see that the redemption work is the task planned, proceeded and completed by God. When humans were available, God included them to work with Him, but when no one was available, God worked continually all by himself and then, finally completed it by sending his Son Jesus to be the Christ. Today, it is still the same. God is looking for people who are willing to accept his will; when he finds them, he shows his vision for them and works and fulfills his will through them; but when people reject his will upon their life, God still proceeds his work and fulfills it. Indeed, our God has been at his work to this very day, sometimes, working together with people when they are available and willing to work with him, and sometimes, all by himself. Indeed, the zeal of the Lord will accomplish the task.Now we are invited to work with him How do you respond to his invitation? Dont reject him. Instead, accept his great vision for you and work with him. God will fulfill his great vision in and through you, and your life will go gloriously.


Second, You are to give him the name Jesus (18-21).Look at verse 18. This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Lukes gospel focuses on Mary, but Matthews gospel on Joseph. They were pledged to marry. According to the Jewish marriage custom, they were legally husband and wife, but for one year after this pledge, they stayed at their parents house instead of living together. Now their hearts were dedicated to each other, earnestly waiting for their wedding day. How happy Joseph was as he was thinking about his beautiful bride Mary! As a carpenter, maybe, he was preparing some wedding furniture; maybe, he was making some cute wooden mascot as a symbol of their complete dedication to each other; maybe he was planning for their honeymoon. Even though he was working overtime, he was not tired at all at the thought of seeing the smiling face of Mary. Joyful humming came out of his mouth very naturally. He would sing of Mary, Abe Maria. Abe Maria. Maria, Maria, you make me laugh. Hahaha! Indeed, he was the happiest person in the world.


Then, one day, he heard what he could not believe – Mary was pregnant! Oh, no! It was unbelievable. He was betrayed. Actually, she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, but how could he even imagine such a thing? Even if she tried to explain what had happened, who could believe that? A pregnant teenage girl says that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit!? No way! Joseph felt like the heaven collapsed right on him, and the earth melted right under him. He was really crushed. People do so many crazy things when such things happen to them – some people, in anger, pull out their guns, and others curse their betrayers. But how did Joseph deal with this problem? Look at verse 19. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. He could have let out his anger and sense of betrayal, but if he did so, Mary would be exposed to public disgrace, or even, she would be endangered to be killed according to the law. Instead, he chose to swallow such sorrow, pain, and anger all by himself, covering her shame. Even in such a pain, he was mindful of Mary, and for the sake of her happiness, he decided to divorce her quietly. He was really a man, so noble and mature. How could he do that? Verse 19 says that he was a righteous man, meaning that he had right relationship with God. When he was in the relationship with God, he was not controlled by his ill-emotion; he was not defeated by this challenge. Instead, when he was in the right relationship with God, he had strength to deal with this challenge. This is a secret of how we can become mature, cool and awesome. When brothers are in the right relationship with God, they become real men, so noble and awesome and mature - best husband candidates for all the sisters. When brothers are so noble like Joseph, many families can be preserved and many sisters can be comforted. Lets pray that all our brothers may seek the right relationship with God by obeying Gods command and doing what God wants them to do wholeheartedly. 


But things didnt go as Joseph had thought. Look at verses 20 and 21. Lets read these verses together:


20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in his dream and said, Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.


This was the first Christmas message delivered by an angel of God, given to Joseph. Personally, how happy Joseph was when he realized that Mary had not cheated on him! He was relieved from such pain and sorrow. Also, how happy he was when he realized that God was doing something great in his family. Moreover, the first Christmas message was really awesomeShe will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.It was the proclamation that Gods promised Messiah was going to be born in his family. The name he would give the son Mary would deliver, was Jesus, which means, The Lord saves. Why should his name be JesusIt was because he will save his people from their sins. Who is Jesus? He is the one who saves his people from their sins! Amen. 


If you are his people, then this is what Jesus does for you: He saves you from your sins. Then, you no longer live as slaves to sin; you no longer are controlled by sin. Once you are not controlled by sin, then, you can live a totally different life, not as slaves to sin any longer, but as free children of God. What is freedom? Freedom is your strength, your capability to obey God. Think about you being able to choose to do what God wants you to do, instead of being ruled by your fleshly desires, or materialistic desires. Think about you choosing to love God instead of being ruled by your small citizens dreams. Think about you being able to choose to do what God wants you to do, instead of being ruled by your ill-emotions or bitterness. Once you are saved from your sins, you can truly live as children of God, loving God and serving His will in all circumstances. You can truly enjoy freedom in Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus does for his people.


Before, we were sinners, doing what sin desired as slaves to sin. That sin-plagued life was terrible. It was painful; we wept a lot. It was the life of zombies, controlled by sinful desires, endlessly wandering; we kept doing what we didnt want to do. It was such a destructive life, bringing harm to ourselves and to others around us. How did our future look? It looked terrible too! There was no hope, no vision, but only gloom and misery. When we lived as slaves to sin, our life carried no value, no meaning, and no purpose. We were just doing terrible and mischievous things. What a miserable life it was! Then, Jesus came and saved us from our sins and gave us this new life. In this new life, we are given a chance to choose to obey God and do something great, something meaningful. What great blessing it is to be saved from our sins! Indeed, it is salvation we experience in Jesus Christ. Now as we have lived our life as children of God, loving God and serving His purpose, our life carries real value, meaning and purpose. As our life is being used for Gods kingdom work, we are satisfied and happy. What a wonderful life we enjoy! This is all by the grace of our Lord Jesus who saved us from our sins. It is really reasonable for us to honor him and celebrate his birth. Thats what Christmas is about. 


Jesus saves his people from their sins. Are you Jesuspeople? Then, he saves you from your sins. Then, think about how you are going to live as free children of God. Also, still, so many people live in sin; they groan and mourn; they are fighting with each other at home, at work, and on the streets; they are perishing. What they really need is not some toys, or chocolates, or computers, or even diamonds. What they really need is the real Christmas gift, that is, Jesus Christ who saves them from their sins. He can give them a new life. Lets pray that we may bring this good news of Jesus to many people around us. 


Third, Immanuel - God with us (22-25). Look at verses 22 and 23. Lets read these verses together: 


22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel-- which means, God with us.


This is the comment of the author Matthew about the coming of the Savior Jesus. There might be several other prophecies he could have talked about in regard to Jesuscoming, but he only mentions about this: Immanuel - God with us. To him, God being with us, lowly human beings, was the most amazing thing. A virgin, named Mary, gave birth to a child - this is a universal event, so shocking and amazing. Then, people may ask, Whats the meaning of this miracle? Its meaning is, Immanuel, which means, God with us.


This prophecy of the virgin birth, Immanuel - God with us is from Isaiah 7. About 700 BC, when the Southern Kingdom Judah was attacked by the joint forces of the Northern Kingdom Israel and Aram, God sent his servant Isaiah to Ahaz, the king, and told him that He would help them and protect them; God even told him, Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights. (Isa 7:11) - the sign of Gods confirmation that he would really help them - any sign! God really wanted to help his people, and he really wanted them to trust in Him. But the king rejected Gods offer, saying, I will not put the LORD to the test, because he had already decided to rely on some tangible help from the Assyrian Empire, rather than relying on Gods help. At this, the prophet Isaiah was upset and rebuked the king, saying, Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. By their unbelief, by rejecting God, they really tried Gods patience - they were really bad, despicable. Yet, Gods desire to be with them was bigger than their sin. Despite their rejection, God still gave them this sign, the sign of the virgin giving birth to a son - this was Gods confirmation that He was with them - Immanuel, God with us. 


The author, Matthew, like all other people in the world, pursued his own life as a tax collector, and he was somewhat successful, establishing his career very well with a license, position and wealth. But the problem was that no one was with him. Now with a lot of money, he was lonely, depressed and suicidal. Every night, he drank beer and watched the TV until he fell asleep. He was like a flickering wick that would die any moment. No one knew whats going, and no one wanted to be with him. But Jesus wanted to be with him and called him to follow him. When he had life together with Jesus, serving Gods work together with him, he was healed of his wounds and scars; loneliness and depression disappeared; his life carried real valueand meaning, and he was satisfied. He became a great man of God, the apostle Matthew. To Matthew, Jesus was his Immanuel God who was with him. So, with such confidence in Gods unfailing love, he could say to all peoples on earth, to all kinds of despicable sinners, Immanuel - God with us!


Like king Ahaz, people usually dont trust in Gods help, but on something tangible such as money, or their family, or their own strength. That way, while saying some Biblical sounding words such as, I will not put the Lord to the test,they reject God, being on their own in this life, only to be miserable, lonely and sorrowful. When they are on their own, they are nothing but the enemies toy. Demons play with them for a while and finish them. For all these skeptical people, for all these people who have tendency of mistrust, God shouts, Immanuel - God with us!


The virgin birth of Jesus is Gods sign for all peoples on earth - this sign stands out so greatly in the entire human history, drawing all peoples attention; everyone throughout the world, generation after generation, can read this sign. Then, what is the meaning of this sign? It is Immanuel - God with us! This virgin birth shows Gods burning desire to be with us; He wants to be in our day to day life. It means that He wants to help us, and He wants us to accept Him and have life together with Him. His desire to be with us is so great that He carried such a huge propaganda in the whole world; it was like God shouting to all peoples on earth, Immanuel - God with us! No one should say, No one understands me, because God cares for us. Today, lets accept Gods burning passion to be with us - He wants us to have life together with Him. Dont reject him any longer, but turn to Him and enjoy life together with Him. 


Just like the kingdom of Judah, our life comes with a lot of dangers - the danger of car-accident, the danger of gangsters and robbers, the danger of diseases, the danger of mosquitoes, the danger of bacteria, the danger of viruses, the danger of humans, the danger of animals, the danger of demons, the danger of earthquakes, the danger of wildfires, the danger of weapons and wars,... How scared we are when we catch cold! How scared we are when we have nausea, or dizziness, or headache. There is no end. Indeed, our life is like a journey through the landmine. What can be real good news for us? Money? Or Success? Or marriage? No, these things cannot be real good news, because you never know what will happen tomorrow. Your situation will change for sure. The real good news is this: Immanuel - God with us! He is our shield. He is our guide. Then, with God guiding us and protecting us, we can say, Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.Sometimes, we feel alone; sometimes, we wonder if God is still there with us. But when we look back, there is our God, Jesus, standing behind us, smiling and bidding us to go. Sometimes, lifes challenges are too heavy that we fall in despair. Then, Jesus comes and bids us to rise and walk, promising that he will give us new strength. Surely, God will guide us to the heavenly shore safe and sound, and we will see him there face to face. Immanuel - God with us!


  Look at verses 24 and 25. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. He realized that God was going to use his family for His special purpose - this would affect his marriage, his family and his entire life. But he willingly accepted it, offering his marriage dream, his family life and everything to God for His purpose. He was a great man. When Mary gave birth to a son, he gave him the name Jesus.


One Word:Immanuel - God With Us