Day 1: January 1

Matthew 1:18-23 (NLT)

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

Mary had been promised in marriage to Joseph, but the wedding had not yet taken place. In NT times, betrothal was a form of engagement (but more binding than engagement today) and it could be broken only by divorce. Although an engaged couple did not live together until the marriage ceremony, unfaithfulness on the part of the betrothed was treated as adultery and punishable by death.

The angel revealed the unborn Child’s sex, name, and mission. Mary would bear a Son. He was to be named JESUS, (which means “Jehovah is salvation” or “Jehovah, the Savior”). True to His Name, He would save His people from their sins. This Child of destiny was Jehovah Himself, visiting earth to save people from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and eventually from the very presence of sin.

As Matthew recorded these events, he realized that a new era had dawned in the history of God’s dealings with the human race. The words of a messianic prophecy, long dormant, had now sprung to life. Isaiah’s cryptic prophecy was now fulfilled in Mary’s Child: So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet.

The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 included the foretelling of a unique birth (“Behold, the virgin shall conceive”), the sex of the Child (“and bear a Son”), and the name of the child (“and [she] shall call His name Immanuel”). Matthew adds the explanation that Immanuel means God with us.

Life Application

Joseph responded to God’s request even after he had already made up his mind to how he was going to handle the situation. How we respond to the ‘nudgings’ of God, says allot about our faith, especially once we’ve come to a resolve within our own minds. We should never allow what we think is best, to override God’s desires. His ways are much higher than ours and always turns out much better than ours.

Matthew 7:28-29 (NLT)

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.

Jesus amazed the crowds with an authority that surpassed that of other teachers. First-century Jewish teachers appealed to the authority of their rabbinic predecessors. However, Jesus introduced His teachings with the contrast, “You have heard that it was said… but I tell you” (see…Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). By this Jesus made clear that He had the authority to interpret the law independent from and even contrary to the Jewish oral tradition and the most esteemed rabbis.

Life Application

Jesus knew if he was going to truly make an impact, he had to move the people away from the man-made opinions of what Biblical faith was all about. This is why it is important for Christians to build their faith upon the principles of the scriptures and not solely upon the descriptions of men. Your commitment to work through this devotion, speaks loudly of your desire to build your faith upon the mandate of scripture. Keep it up and watch God work uniquely through you.