Yesterday I preached from Matthew 1:18-25 in our celebration of the incarnation. As we reflect on the hustle and bustle of our schedules during the Christmas season, it’s essential to recall the purpose of Jesus’ birth. The birth of Christ matters and without the incarnation, we would all be doomed.
Over the last couple of weeks, our home has changed drastically through decorations, lights, candles, bows, and ornaments. My wife asked me to bring down the storage boxes from the attic, and within a few hours, we had our Christmas tree up, fully decorated, and all around our living room the decorations that had been stored away for the past eleven months have reassumed their post in our home. We must not overlook the real purpose for this celebration and become swept away in a celebration that’s somehow disconnected from the gospel of Christ.
Mary and Joseph were in a betrothal period and preparing to be married when it was discovered that Mary was with child. Joseph knew that the child was not his and as a just and upright man, he wanted to lawfully provide Mary with a bill of divorcement in order that they could both separate and save themselves shame and pain in the process. In the midst of Joseph’s crisis, he was considering his decisions. Sexual purity was expected in their culture. Unlike our present culture where sexual promiscuity is celebrated and promoted, that was not the case in their day. Joseph had a crisis to deal with, and he was considering his decision.
In the midst of his consideration, an angel appeared to him during his sleep and provided him with some good news. The baby in Mary’s womb was not the result of sexual misconduct or loose living. The baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. In a day when sonograms were unavailable to determine the sex of the baby, Joseph had a visit from an angel informing him that the baby was conceived of the Holy Spirit, was a boy, and His name should be called Jesus.
The angel’s words to Joseph are loaded with truth. In these words in Matthew 1:21, we see the sovereignty of God in Jesus’ birth and we see the sovereignty of God’s saving plan put on display as well. Jesus would come on a saving mission, and He “will save” His people from their sins according to the angel. Therefore, Joseph could move forward with their marriage and have the full assurance that Mary was pure in the process.
The purpose of Jesus’ birth is clearly revealed in the words of the angel. Jesus came to save His people. It must be clearly stated that Jesus didn’t come to try to save people, or hope to save people, or to give it His best shot. Jesus came to accomplish the plan that was designed before the foundation of the world. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Jesus came on a saving mission to save the people that were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4).
As Matthew recounts, all of this statement given by the angel was to fulfill what had been given by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14). In God’s warning to His people through the prophet, a Deliverer was promised to the people. He would come through a virgin’s womb and His name should be called Immanuel (God with us). At Jesus’ birth, God was dwelling with His creation in flesh. The incarnation is the truth of God becoming a man and taking upon Himself human flesh. Fully God and fully man at the same time, what a grand truth to consider. The incarnation matters, prophecy being fulfilled matters, Jesus’ sinless conception matters, and the saving mission of the Trinity matters.
Charles Wesley, wrote the famous hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” in 1739. Consider these words from the hymn:
Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.