Pastor Ed Allen preached today a message for the second Sunday of Advent. He started by pointing out that if we're not careful, the story of Jesus' birth falls into the same category in our minds as other Christmas stories.
We looked at Matthew 1. Matthew wants to communicate:
1) Jesus' life was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
2) Jesus is "God with us" - the great mystery
During the Advent season, we're going to be looking at five reasons to believe this actually happened. Today, we covered the first of those reasons:
Old Testament prophecy suggested something like this.
There are three categories of Old Testament prophecy:
Some are surprises. When they were written, people didn't realize they were prophecies about the Messiah. Over time, Jesus' followers came to believe they were written about Jesus.
An example is Matthew 2:15 - "Out of Egypt I called my son." The original context was about Israel. But Jesus' followers came to see him as a symbol of the nation of Israel. And he was also called out of Egypt.
Some are obvious prophecies. Right from the start, they are known to be about the Messiah.
For example, everyone knew the Messiah would be a descendant of David.
Matthew was amazed that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy and wants us to be as well - that's why he includes the genealogy of Joseph, to show Jesus was the legal heir of David.
Another example was that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:1-6 points out this was fulfilled.
One starts to believe it may be more than coincidence.
Some passages they weren't sure if they were prophecies. They hinted at the Messiah, nonetheless.
An example is Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14 "a virgin will conceive."
Most people in Israel didn't see it as a Messianic prophecy, and it might have referred to a young woman, Hezekiah's mother. Early in following Jesus, Matthew certainly didn't think of this passage.
But that makes it more likely to be true.
The virgin birth came as a complete surprise. No one expected this. It's not even a Jewish idea.
So where did Matthew get this notion of the virgin birth? From Egyptians? Not likely. Did he make it up? But why? He doesn't need the virgin birth.
The simplest explanation is that Matthew got it from Mary and it really happened.
When you try to construct alternate explanations for Jesus' life, it's not easy. This is either the champion of coincidences or something mind-blowing happened here.
The Christmas story can get buried in sentimentality. Jesus is looking for surrender.
We worship Jesus today. We submit our lives to Him.
The profound mystery: He is God with us.