Mathew is a gospel that shades more light on the birth of salvation not only for Israel but also for the whole world. This is basically a book of new beginnings where Mathew takes us back through the history of Israel. There is more about the texts in the book of Mathew that reveal to us the sole purpose of God and his work of salvation to human kind. Just before we are told about the physical birth of Jesus, we are taken through the genealogy of Jesus where a relationship is made from Abraham to Jesus Luke 1(New International Version). This is to remind us of the promises that God made to the Israelites through the ancestors and the assurance that the time has finally come for humanity to be delivered from sin. It can be remembered that the birth of Jesus was part of the fulfillment of a promise that was carried forward from Abraham, Isaac and David. In this paper, we shall be looking at the scriptures that surround the birth of Jesus and their implication to modern Christian living.
Mathew is the first book of the New Testament, which highlights a new beginning in the error of humanity. The bible has been apportioned according to how God manifested himself to the generations of humankind. For instance, the Old Testament talks more about how God had a personal relationship with the first man, Adam and eve. They obtained al they had and enjoyed open fellowship with God until when they disobeyed God and feel for the deceptions of the devil. The alienation made man to loose that fellowship where now God started using specific people to communicate to masses Isaiah 53:7; Luke 1:5-56 (New International Version).. This was the error when he sent his message, which was mainly to warn them of their wicked ways and schemes. He also used such people to guarantee them that he loved them and would deliver them only if they followed their decrees. From the error of using prophets to deliver his message, God saw it necessary to unveil himself as a physical human being.
God in flesh
The need for God to appear in flesh was because of the strained relationship between him and man where they seemed not to understand each other. It should also be noted that there was a growing interest in man for a physical God who could relate with human suffering and hence empathizing with such feelings. Most of the great prophets had a great challenge convincing the people that there was God yet they could not see him Isaiah 40:1-5, 9; Jeremiah 23:5 (New International Version). They had been so much acquainted to the pagan gods, which could be seen and even felt. This is mostly demonstrated when Moses went to the mountain to talk to God and came back to find the Israelites had given up waiting for him. It did not make a lot of sense to them when they were told that there was a God who loved and cared for them yet they could not see him. This was despite of the fact that he performed great miracles and wonders in their presence.
The mind of human beings had been corrupted to the extend that they could not believe unless they see. They were also facing ridicule from other communities that bragged of having God’s they could associate with yet they only had God they only had of. The need to demonstrate to man that God was actually empathetic and knew what they were going through; he decided to come in person through Jesus Psalm 41:9; Isaiah 7:14 (New International Version). It would have been easy for God to come in a fully grown human nature, however, he chose to come as an infant just to demonstrate to people that he could go through the delicate stages of infancy, face the challenges that they faced and ultimately deliver them from their sins. The birth of Jesus Christ was hence a confirmation of the word that God had spoken to the children of Israel as well as an assurance that he cared more about them Isaiah 50:6; Luke 2:67-79 (New International Version).
Prophesies on the birth of Jesus
There is a lot that can be learned from the conception of Jesus up until when he ascended to heaven. The first of course are the many prophesies of the old testament about his birth which were spoken by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah and the likes Isaiah 7:14;Micah 5:1-2; Genesis 49:10;Jeremiah 23:5 (New International Version). Just before he was born, Mary his mother had been betrothed to Joseph and they were yet to get married. She was then chosen by God where the she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. This was a bit ridiculous especially to Joseph who noticed that his fiancé was pregnant. He decided to do a honorable thing of leaving him without embarrassing her in public. However, he is told not to fear to take her as a wife with the assurance that what she conceived was of God Isaiah 53:1-3; John 4:19-26(New International Version). It was amazing how the couple accepted and appreciated the plan of God in their lives, which is a reflection of the total obedience, and submission that is required of us by God. We are also introduced to an important character in the bible, Elizabeth who also conceived miraculously.
Apart from the fact that Mary and Elizabeth were relatives, their history would be read in many books as the women who contributed to the delivery of the human generation. After receiving the news of the conception, Mary ran to Elizabeth who was barren but had conceived miraculously Mathew, Zechariah 11:12-13 (New International Version). She was carrying the fetus of yet another great man in biblical history called john the Baptists. The timing of their births was significant as one prepared the way for the other Isaiah 50:6; Luke 2:67-79 (New International Version). Apart from the fact that Elizabeth became a great source of encouragement to Mary after the miraculous conception, the baby she was carrying came to prepare the way for the child that Mary was carrying. Furthermore, Elizabeth’s husband, Zachariah, played a great role in unveiling the name of his son, which had a great significant in his ministry Micah 5:1-2; Mathew 2:1-12(New International Version).
The challenges that Jesus faced in his infancy stage tells us more of how difficult it was salvation to come to Israel yet every sacrifice had to be made. We are introduced to more characters such as Herod, the wise men, the shepherds and the magi. This was also significant to the life of and ministry of Jesus Daniel 9:24-26; Isaiah 9:6-7 (New International Version). The wise men are reported to have followed the star from afar off before Jesus was born. This was in line with their cultural believes that there us always a unique star that appears when a king is born. This is important in making us know that the ministry of Jesus would attract people from across the world that will leave everything just to behold his goodness.
The angel of the lord also appeared to the shepherds who were watching their flock by night. Once they were told of the news of the birth of Jesus, they left their flock and rushed to Bethlehem to see the king. This was also a reflection of the humble nature of Jesus and the fact that he came to do just what the shepherds were doing. Jesus has been referred to us the good shepherd by the bible Zechariah 12:10, psalms 23 (New International Version). This means that he has the responsibility of taking care of the sheep and ensuring that they are well fed. The ministry of Jesus was mainly to lead, guide and deliver. Just as the shepherds risk their lives in the wilderness and the harsh climatic conditions coupled with the risk of wild animals, Jesus was ready to ensure all this to the point of death just to ensure that the human generation is safe.
Gifts presented and their implication
There is also a significance on the kind of gifts that were received by Jesus during his birth. The wise men brought myrrh, incense and gold. Myrrh and incense are synonymous with burial which meant that the king was born to die for the sins of mankind. Gold is a costly stone that signified how costly it took God just to bring his son to the earth. It was painful for God to know that he mainly sends Jesus to suffer and later own die for mankind Daniel 9:24-26; Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 53:4-6; Mathew 1:2-11(New International Version). Despite all this, he had to overlook such suffering and focus on the redemption plan that he had for humanity. There is also the birth of Jesus in a manger, as his parents could not find room in the inns. This is also significant in letting us know that despite the significance attached to Jesus, many will not accommodate him in their hearts and hence reject him Mathew 1,2 , Zechariah 9:9 (New International Version). This was fulfilled during his crucifixion where a thief was released at his expense.
There was a plot to killed Jesus right from his birth by King Herod. Jesus was born in the error of hereditary kinship in Jerusalem and hence his birth caused a lot of confusion to Herod Isaiah 53:12; Luke 1:57-80 (New International Version). It alarmed him that the magi had travelled all the way just to come and worship a king that had been born in Israel. To stop this, he planned to kill him by demanding that all male children below the age of eight years be killed. This would ensure that Jesus was among them. As other male children suffered death, Jesus was miraculously saved to fulfill the plan of God. This was also significant to his ministry and implied that the plan of God for humanity could not be thwarted by any human authority, Daniel 9, Psalms 23:1-5 (New International Version). God was faithful enough to observe his word and ensure that it is fulfilled.
Apart from the historical prophesies that were fulfilled by the birth of Jesus and other great wonders that surrounded his birth, Jesus grew up a normal child. In fact, it seemed as if his life was forgotten until when he was twelve and thirty Isaiah 35:4-6; Luke 2:1-40 (New International Version). We hear little about him in the bible, which implies that, was just like any other child and had to deal with the challenges that came with his infant growth. This was the best way through which God ultimately demonstrated his life by assuring us that he understands what it means to live in an evil world Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Luke 1:46-56 (New International Version). This was also an assurance that no matter what we go through as believers, we should never loose heart as he is always with us.
NB: all references are obtained from the New International Version Bible