Moses by John August Swanson. Image from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, Tenn. Original source © 1983 by John August Swanson.
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Jesus as Immanuel
Birth of Jesus
Matthew 1:18-25 Commentary
by Cory Driver
At the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, the author presents an account of the birth of Jesus. Unlike Luke’s Mary-centered account of Jesus’ birth, Matthew focuses of Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father.
Joseph’s agency is foregrounded. His first inclination was to dissolve his engagement to Mary rather than have her legally punished for having conceived a child that was not his. Mary’s pregnancy must have caused Joseph a great deal of pain. His hoped-for fiancée was pregnant, and all he knew was that the child was not his.
But God was with Joseph. An angel spoke to Joseph and consoled him. Mary had not cheated on him, and he was still allowed to marry her. Indeed, the only change in their relationship was that they did not have marital relations until after she gave birth (Matthew 1:25). More than that, however, Joseph would be entrusted with caring for and naming the child. The Hebrew name from which we extract “Jesus” means “The LORD saves.” Joseph was to name the child this because he would save his people from their sins.
Jesus was not the only meaningful name that was applied to the child in this passage, however. The author of the gospel ...
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2018-19 Readings (Year 1)
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