Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV)
Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son
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 faithful to the law, and he 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”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
God has always been faithful to us. Time and time again, we rebelled against God. But God’s love never fails.
In 735 BC, the nation Assyria was quickly becoming more and more powerful. It was not because the leader was wise or strong, nor was it because it had a strong military power. God raised up Assyria to punish His people who were sinning and unrepentant. The king of Israel, King Pekah, and the king of Syria, King Resin, wanted to make a treaty with Ahaz, King of Judah. With this treaty, they hoped that would weaken Assyria’s power. However, Ahaz, King of Judah, refused. Because of that, the king of Israel and the king of Aram went after King Ahaz.
Assyria began to attack the Israelite territories. In the midst of this turbulent time, God remembered the promise which He had made to Israel and to David (Isaiah 9:6). Through prophet Isaiah, God said that a child would be born.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
This Child could not be a human king. He could not be an Israelite or a Judean king. No king in the history was ever mentioned or known as a “mighty God”. This Child here referred to the promised Messiah, who would reign over God’s people with perfect wisdom, perfect justice and perfect righteousness. No earthly ruler or king could ever do that. The government which will be on His shoulders will be a government that will be eternal. No human rulers or kings could achieve that.
700 years later, this prophecy came to pass. This Child was born.
The wise men came to worship this little baby and bought him 3 gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. These 3 gifts represented 3 identities of Jesus:
During the time of Jesus, only the royalty and the rich people could afford to own gold. In the past, and even today, gold is used for the crown of the king. By giving baby Jesus gold, it represented the majestic kingship of Jesus. He is the king, as the title of this sermon says that Jesus is the king.
Frankincense is made from the sap of a tree. When it is burned, it released a sweet aroma. In the Old Testament, the priests burned incense as an offering to God. When the wise men offered baby Jesus Frankincense, it signified that Jesus is our High Priest. He is the mediator between us and God.
Myrrh is also derived from the sap of a tree. It is bitter when eaten. When the tree bark is cut to get the sap, the milky sap will turn into red colour due to the reaction with the air. Myrrh was used to embalm the bodies during burial. The gift of myrrh to baby Jesus symbolised that Jesus is the Saviour. His pour was poured out for the forgiveness of sins.
2,000 years ago, at the perfect timing of God, God sent His one and only begotten Son Jesus Christ into this world. He was the long-awaited Messiah, the prophesied fulfilment of God’s promise of deliverance for both the Jews and the Gentiles.
The Creator of the universe who existed outside of time was now God incarnated who was bound by time; He was restricted to the movement of time like we do. The Omnipresent God, now incarnated, was bound by space; He could not be everywhere at a time. He only had 2 feet, and 2 hands. The God who does not slumber, now incarnated, needed rest. He would often withdraw to rest. Yet, He knew the importance of fasting to draw closer to God, His Father in Heaven. From the incarnated God, we see the human side of Him. Through Him, we could experience the love of God. Jesus came to preach the Good News, to heal the sick and to set the oppressed free (Matthew 4:23).
Jesus, though the Son of God, came into this world as the most unlikely King. He was not born in a grand palace. He had no servants around Him at His birth. He was not born with grand royal announcements from the palace. But His birth was the most significant event in history. Heaven and earth were a part of His birth. A bright star shone in the sky. Choirs of angels declared His birth in the starry sky.
The Wonders of the Birth of Jesus:
(1) It was through the Holy Spirit
Jesus came from Heaven to earth incarnated, meaning God came into this world in human flesh, like ours. He came into this world through the virgin Mary. A virgin, means a young girl who is never married and never had a child. Mary was greatly troubled when she heard that she, an unmarried girl, would be pregnant with baby Jesus. Though afraid, she trusted in the Lord and was willing to be the Lord’s vessel.
(2) It was prophesied
At the time of political unrest during Ahaz (734 BC), Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would bear a son and when the son is born, he is to be named Immanuel, meaning, God with us. it was a symbolic hope of God’s presence during the dark times of the nation. Before this child was old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, Judah would be delivered from the threats of Israel and Aram (Isaiah 7:14-17). And what Isaiah said actually happened.
This prophecy was also a prediction of a future Messiah whose government is on His shoulder. That is Jesus. God’s way to hostility of the cruel world is to send His Son as a helpless human baby. His birth is the expression of God’s love for us. His birth is “Emmanuel”, God with us. This eternal king came to bear the Good News that God is with us and God wants to turn our darkness into light, our confusion into peace, our loss into abundance and our despair into joy. This is the nature of God: full of love, bringing peace, joy and hope into His people.
If you are still trying to get by on your own, why not come to God and experience His peace and love.
(3) It was a gift
Jesus’ birth was a gift to us human kind. Jesus came to save us mankind from the wrath of sins. We do not deserve this gift of salvation. But because of His great love for us.
Lamentations 3:22, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.“
Jesus’ birth is to declare to us that God is with us. We lived in a troubling time. Immanuel, that is what He was to be called at birth, reminding us that God has not forgotten about us in troubled and uncertain time such as this. But through it all, God is with us. Take some time this advent season to ponder on the depth of love and faithfulness of God. He never forsake us. Not only that, God became one of us. The Prince of Heaven made Himself low so He could raise us from our pitiful states to be children of God. What a marvellous gift this is.