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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Fourth Sunday In Advent

"Six Important Questions About Christ's Birth"
Matthew 1:18-25
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

If you think back to your school days, you remember that you had to study history. There is little middle ground with the students of history. You either hated it or you loved it. My college history instructor chose a text book that had the six questions about history that must be asked if you are to make any sense of an event.

We can ask the same six questions about the birth of Christ. After all, Matthew, one of the Lord’s disciples, is the writer of this history of Christ’s birth. So let’s take a few moments to find the answers to the six important questions about Christ’s birth.

1) WHO? Jesus CHRIST. He would otherwise be known as Jesus Ben Joseph--Jesus, Son of Joseph. But He is Jesus, the Anointed One--Jesus the Christ. See Lk 4:18-19; see also re: Christ’s 3-fold office of Prophet, High Priest and King. See also Jesus as Savior and Immanuel as "God with us."

2) WHAT? An unexpected pregnancy during Mary’s betrothal to Joseph. Not adultery, as Joseph first thought (18-19), but miracle (20-21)!

3) WHEN? At the fullness of time, according to Isaiah the prophet--vv22-23; Gal 4:4

4) WHERE? In Bethlehem, the City of David--Luke 2

5) WHY? Because sin has corrupted all mankind--Gen 6:1-2; because a sacrifice was needed to repair sin’s damage--Eph 5:2b, I John 2:1-2

6) HOW? God’s gracious intervention in history. See His answer to Mary’s question in Luke 1:34-35; 2 Cor 5:19

MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7: Not only had Isaiah indicated such a birth (7:14), but even in Genesis we get a glimpse of it. God spoke to the serpent of the enmity that would henceforth exist between "your seed and her [Eve’s] seed" (Gen 3:15). In a technical sense the seed belongs to the man, and Mary’s impregnation by the Holy Spirit is the only instance in human history that a woman had a seed within her that did not come from a man. The promise to Abraham concerned "his seed," a common way of referring to offspring. This unique reference to "her seed" looks beyond Adam and Eve to Mary and to Jesus Christ. The two seeds of Genesis 3:15 can be seen in a simple sense as collective; that is, they may refer to all those who are part of Satan’s progeny and to all those who a part of Eve’s. That view sees the war between the two as raging for all time, with the people of righteousness eventually gaining victory over the people of evil. But "seed" also can be singular in that it refers to one great, final, glorious product of a woman, who will be the Lord Himself--born without male seed. In that sense the prediction is messianic. It may be that the prophecy looks to both the collective and the individual meanings.

Paul is very clear when he tells us that "When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman" (Gal 4:4). There is no human father in that verse. Jesus had to have one human parent or He could not have been human, and thereby a partaker of our flesh. But He also had to have divine parentage or He could not have made a sinless and perfect sacrifice on our behalf.


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Matthew 1:18ff
Object: a Rose or any other real flower

What is this flower called? Yes, it is a rose. Would it be any less beautiful if we called it something else? What if we called this flower a PINOCHLE? Oh no, that won’t work; that’s a card game. What if we called it a BARNACLE? Would it smell any different? A poet once asked: What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

In today’s Bible reading, there are two names that are very special; names that we would never want to change. Joseph had a dream in which an angel spoke to him. He was told: that Mary would give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

Jesus--that is the most special name of all. Jesus was given this name because God would take all of our sins away from us through Jesus, have them nailed to Jesus' cross, and have Jesus die for them there. Otherwise, our sins would condemn us and we would be in big trouble.

Here’s the other name: The virgin will give birth to a son and they will call him IMMANUEL, which means "God with us." Jesus had to become a real man with a real body that could be punished and crucified for our sins. The fact that He is IMMANUEL means that His suffering and death was payment in full for the sins of everyone who ever lived or will live.

It wouldn’t matter if this flower were called a BARNACLE or an EGG PLANT, but it matters a great deal that Jesus is the name of the man who came to our Savior and that He is GOD WITH US.

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Kelly Bedard is enjoying a hiatus from the pulpit this weekend as Sunday School children lead worship.
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