December 13, 2018
“For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Hebrews 2:16.
Jesus was and is God. He was also human. This fact can be a stumbling block for someone who is a non-believer and even many Christians find it hard to accept. It’s a truth that doesn’t fit into our human understanding and must be accepted by faith. The more we understand Scripture the easier it is to accept. Scripture clearly says that Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus, but Mary was His biological mother. She was as human as you or me, but God chose her for a special purpose. She was chosen to give birth to God’s only begotten Son. She must have been a special person for God to have chosen her for that unique purpose. She was young and most Bible teachers say that Mary was probably in her early teens when she was espoused to Joseph. This was a common practice in those days. Being espoused means that they were promised to each other and Joseph, who was a carpenter, was busy preparing himself to provide for a wife and family. Mary, too, was preparing herself to be a wife and, one day, a mother. When all was ready for them to be married they would come together as husband and wife. Until then they weren’t sexually active but were committed to each other. Then the angel appeared to Mary and her life was forever changed. “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there shall be no end.” Luke 1:31-33. To a young Jewish teenager this must have been shocking to hear. Mary didn’t understand exactly how this would be accomplished, but she was obedient to God. God never forces anyone to do anything against their free will and Mary had a choice. She chose to allow this marvelous thing to happen. “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38. Did Mary know of the many prophecies regarding the coming Messiah? He would be from the tribe of Judah, specifically the house of David, and He would be born of a virgin. Whether she knew them or not, she agreed to become pregnant with the Son of God.
Mary was from the tribe of Judah, and we can read her lineage in the Gospel of Luke. In the Gospel of Matthew, we can read of her espoused husband Joseph’s lineage. Matthew begins the genealogy of Joseph with Abraham and shows that Joseph was from the royal line of David. Mary, however, was born to the House of David, but not the royal line. Luke begins the genealogy by saying that Jesus began His ministry at age 30, and He was thought to be the son of Joseph. “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which is the son of Heli.” Luke 3:23. Now, this can be confusing. Matthew’s genealogy says that Joseph’s father’s name was Jacob, but Luke says it was Heli. The explanation is simple. Normally a Jewish genealogy is traced through the father, so it’s not odd that Joseph would be named instead of Mary. Heli was Joseph’s father-in-law. This is further demonstrated by the fact that in Matthew, Joseph’s genealogy runs through David’s son Solomon then follows the line through the generations to Joseph. Luke’s genealogy begins with Heli and runs backwards in time. Instead of Solomon and his line, Mary’s genealogy follows through David’s son Nathan. “Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David” Luke 3:31. Mary was from the House of David, but not the royal line. Luke continues going backwards to Abraham, then continues back to Adam. “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” Luke 3:38. Adam was a direct creation of God so Luke could go no further back. Because Jesus’ mother Mary was a human being who was descended from Adam, Jesus was fully human.
The fact that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth is a miracle from God. Of the many prophecies surrounding Jesus’ birth, this one may be the most difficult to understand. By human terms that’s impossible, but nothing is impossible for God. Many centuries before Mary was born there had been a prophecy of a virgin conceiving and bearing a son. King Ahaz was a very wicked king, but God chose to speak to him through the prophet Isaiah. It wouldn’t be long until the Southern Kingdom of Judah would be taken captive, but God wanted to reveal that they would return to Jerusalem after the captivity was over. God offered Ahaz a sign, but Ahaz refused to receive it. God gave him a sign anyway. Like many prophecies, this one had both a near and far fulfillment. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Isaiah 7:14-15. People like to say that the Hebrew word ‘almah that is translated virgin can simply mean a young woman. That’s true, but there are other Scriptures in which the word appears refers to a young woman who has not been with a man. Besides that, is it really any kind of sign for a young woman to give birth? A young woman giving birth is pretty common. There was a young woman in the court of Ahaz who did have a baby boy and named him Immanuel. That was the “near” fulfillment, but not the important one. The Gospel of Matthew confirms that the prophecy spoke of the virgin birth. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23. Immanuel and Emmanuel both mean “God with us”. Jesus was fully God but needed a human mother in order to be fully human. If He wasn’t both God and human then He couldn’t have been our redeemer.
When we celebrate Christmas each year we remember that the Romans mandated that a tax would be imposed. “And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.” Luke 2:3. Both Joseph and Mary were of the House of David so they had to leave their home in Nazareth and travel to Bethlehem. What an ordeal that must have been. Mary was soon to give birth to the Messiah, but she had to make that long journey. This seems rather cruel, but prophecy said that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2. It may have been a difficult journey for Mary, but she was healthy and God protected her. What rejoicing there was on the night our Saviour was born. The angels proclaimed His birth and the shepherds were the first to visit Him. His step-father protected Him and Mary. Joseph and Mary would have children after they were married, but she was a virgin when Jesus was born.
Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of man. God entered His creation, but He entered it in the form of a human. That was because Mary was obedient. Joseph and Mary were both special people who God entrusted with His most precious Gift. Accept that gift of grace and live with Him forever.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at our Home Page under the Newsletter Archive tab.
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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