Sunday, September 20, 2009

9/20- Matthew 1:18-23 Fulfilled prophecy in Christ's birth

(painting of Isaiah- Raphael)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

Matthew 1:18-23
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 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. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a 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. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us"). (Matthew 1:18-23)
Calvin abridged: It is not just the giving of the name Immanuel that is given by the prophet- but “all this” refers to anything divine or prophesied fulfilled in Christ. Let us explore the true meaning of this passage in Isaiah quoted in Matthew. The city of Jerusalem is under siege. Ahaz (the king) trembles. God sends Isaiah to tell the king that God will protect it. Isaiah asks Ahaz to ask for a sign, but in his unbelief he does not ask, so God tells him that a sign will be given in that a virgin will be with child and they will call him Immanuel. This is a sign of God’s redemption and care for the city. The people of God at the time of Jesus [as Ahaz did] have tried to not listen to the promise and opportunity of God. The promised Redeemer will come in whom God will show himself to be fully present to his people. The right translation of “virgin” is not “young woman” as the Jews suppose. For the word is uniformly used in scripture of a woman who has not known a man. But beyond this, both Isaiah and Matthew are not talking about an ordinary event, but an extraordinary sign of God’s redemption.

Thought: The birth of Jesus, the beginning of the good news is not an ordinary birth, though certainly it was a humble birth. God became human, and did it in a way he had predicted (in the city of David, born to redeem/save his people of a virgin, complete with dreams, and more). There are many scholars who would deny a spiritual side to the birth of Jesus. But Matthew is full of God intersecting, and not being embarrassed of it.

Prayer: Help us, O Lord, to see how your old promises and old word still becomes new to us.

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