Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth is a little bit different to Lukes, since in Matthew we find the story told through Joseph’s perspective instead of Mary’s. In those days, the first part of marriage was really the betrothal, and although the woman would remain within her parents household during this time (usually for a year), the couple were considered in many ways already married.
So we can understand that when Joseph finds out Mary is already pregnant while betrothed to him, he naturally assumed that he would have to divorce her, since she was no longer eligible for marriage. By choosing to do this quietly, Matthew highlights that Joseph is not only righteous, but merciful too. The punishment for a betrothed woman to engage in sexual intercourse was death (Deut 22:23-24), and this would certainly be the case if Joseph took his case to the public court.
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”” (Matt 1:20-21.
This child that is about to be born is destined for great things, such that even his name cannot be left to the parent’s decision. This child shall be named ‘Jesus’, literally meaning ’the Lord saves’.
What a great reminder as we begin this advent season! That even his very birth announces his wonderful works, emphasising not simply that this child will be king, but that this child will be SAVIOUR!
Questions To Consider
What stands out most to you within this story?
How do you think you would have responded if you were Joseph?
Do you find it easier to identify with Jesus as Saviour or King?