Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
(a) His mother Mary. All four Gospel writers refer to Mary as the mother of Jesus (Matt. 1:18, 2:11, 13, 14, 20–21, 12:46, Mark 3:31, Luke 2:33–34, 2:48, 51, 8:19, John 2:1, 3, 5, 12, 19:25–26, Acts 1:14).
(b) With child by the Holy Spirit. There is much mystery in this. How did the miracle of the Virgin Birth take place? We don’t know the how, but we know the Who. The Holy Spirit is the answer to the question, how did the Word become flesh?
Mary was not Jesus’ biological mother. She was a surrogate mother who carried and raised the child from heaven (see entry for Luke 1:35).
And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
Send her away. A Jewish marriage is bookended by two ceremonies, a betrothal (erusin) and the wedding (nisuin) itself. These two ceremonies may be separated by as much as a year. At the betrothal ceremony, the groom signs a contract or tena’im binding him to his intended wife. This is a serious contract that can only be broken by death or divorce. This is why Joseph, who was betrothed but not married to Mary, considered sending her away or divorcing her learning that she was pregnant. Joseph could not simply break off the engagement. He had to follow the legal procedure for undoing the betrothal.
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
(a) He will save His people from their sins. Salvation comes when we know the Savior who sets us free from captivity to sin. See entry for Luke 1:77.
(b) Save. The original word (sozo) is usually translated as save from our sins (e.g., Matt. 1:21), or save us from death (e.g., Matt. 8:25), but it can also imply healing. When Jesus healed the sick, he sozo ed them; he healed them (Mark 5:23), delivered them (Luke 8:36) and made them whole (Matt. 9:21). See entry for Salvation.
“BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”
(a) The virgin. Jesus is the only human who was not descended from Adam’s race of slaves.
Jesus had to be born of a virgin. He was “made of woman”, so he’s one of us, but he’s from heaven, so he’s free from the law of sin and death. Throughout history many pseudo-saviors have come promising freedom, but every one of them was a slave to sin. They couldn’t save anyone. If you are redeemed by a slave, that slave’s master becomes your master. We needed a free man to redeem us from the slave market of sin and Jesus is that free man. Why is the virgin birth essential to the story? Because only a free man can redeem a slave.
Moses is a type of Christ because he was the only Hebrew not owned by Pharaoh. Moses was a free man used by God to liberate a nation of slaves. Similarly, Jesus is special because he’s the only human who wasn’t a slave. Since Jesus isn’t of Adam, he’s not part of the slave race. This makes him an ideal savior. When you’re locked up inside, you need help from outside, and Jesus is the very definition of outside help. Jesus was constantly reminding people, “I am not of this world” (John 8:23). He was saying, “Since I’m not part of the Matrix I can help unplug you from the Matrix.”
See entry for Virgin Birth.
(b) God with us. Jesus is “God is with us” in every sense of the word. He is the Word or divine expression of God who was made flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:14). He is the mediator of the human race (1 Tim. 2:5), a high priest who has experienced the power of temptation and empathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). He is our righteous advocate who speaks for us when we sin (1 John 2:1). And he is the means by which the believer enters into union with the Godhead and partakes of divine life (Col. 3:4, 2 Pet. 1:2-4).
Our union with the Lord is captured in the word with. In Christ, God is with us and we are with him. The believer has been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Gal. 2:20, Col. 2:20, 3:3, 2 Tim. 2:11), raised and made alive with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Eph. 2:5, Col. 3:1), is a joint heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17), is clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27), and now reigns with Christ (Eph. 2:6, 2 Tim. 2:12). Truly the believer is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).
See entry for Union.
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