If you've heard the Christmas story from Matthew 1:18-25, you know that Matthew quotes from Isaiah 7:14 in the Old Testament. For years, scholars have argued over that verse--like whether the Hebrew almah means virgin or young woman. Meanwhile, I think we've all overlooked an important aspect of Matthew's use of Isaiah.
Not only is Matthew using Isaiah 7:14 to say that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of what Isaiah promised long ago, he also uses it to ask you and me an important question about our relationship with God.
The question gets asked through the problem that confronts Joseph:
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph is bound to Mary, but before they consummate their marriage, she ends up pregnant. Assessing the situation isn't difficult. Joseph knows all about the birds and the bees. He's mad and deeply hurt. And yet...
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.
But as readers, we know something that Joseph doesn't. We've been made privy to some inside information. Mary isn't unfaithful. Rather, she's pregnant because of the Holy Spirit. So then, God is responsible for Mary's messy situation.
Makes you wonder: Why didn't God give Joseph some advanced warning--you know, an angelic "heads up" before Mary obviously looks pregnant? Why does God let Joseph find out this way?
Doesn't it make you marvel a bit about God and how He works?
On second thought, it kind of scares me!
Part 2 tomorrow.