Here in the lead-up to December 25, I am discussing some issues related to Jesus’ birth.  As I mentioned in my previous post, in the entire New Testament, the story of the virgin birth is found only in Matthew and Luke.  Luke has a pretty straightforward explanation of why Jesus had to be born of a virgin: it’s because he was (literally) the “Son of God.”  That is, God is the one who got Mary pregnant, as the angel tells her at the Annunciation:  read Luke 1:31-35, and notice the angels’ explanation: the Spirit of God will “come upon her … SO THAT” the child born of her will be called “The Son of God.”

Matthew, though, has a different explanation.  For Matthew Jesus had to be born of a virgin because that is what was predicted in the Old Testament. This view fits in very well with Matthew’s entire birth narrative of chapters 1-2.  Everything happens “to fulfill Scripture.”

  • Why was Jesus’ mother a virgin? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Isaiah 7:14: “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son”)
  • Why was he born in Bethlehem? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Micah 5:2: “And you, Bethlehem…from you shall come a ruler”
  • Why did Joseph and the family escape to Egypt? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Hosea 11:1: “Out of Egypt I have called my son”)
  • Why did Herod have the boys two years and under killed? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Jeremiah 31.15 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation”)
  • Why did Joseph and family relocate to Nazareth? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes … well what does he quote, exactly? “He will be called a Nazorean.” Huh?  It’s nowhere in the OT)

These so-called “fulfillment citations” are found in Matthew and only in Matthew.  It is clear that Matthew wants to see Jesus as the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets of had said about the messiah Jesus’ coming into the world was all part of the divine plan.  This is clear from the opening verses of the Gospel as well, where Matthew gives his genealogy of Jesus, to which I gave a few posts a few moths ago.  As we saw, according to Matthew, Jesus’ (well, his “father” Joseph’s) genealogy falls into a divinely inspired pattern.  From the father of the Jews Abraham to the greatest king of Israel, David, there were fourteen generations; from David to the greatest disaster in Israel, the Babylonian Captivity, were fourteen generations; and from the Babylonian Captivity to the messiah Jesus was fourteen generations.   Something BIG happens every fourteen generations.  Jesus’ coming into the world is all according to plan.

It is not always appreciated that…

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