Matthew 1:16 and 18 makes it clear that Jesus Christ’s birth was different from that of any other Jewish boy named in the genealogy. Matthew pointed out that Joseph did not “beget” Jesus Christ. Rather, Joseph was the husband of Mary, by whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. Jesus was born of an earthly mother without the need of an earthly father. This is known as the doctrine of the Virgin Birth.
It is the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ that proves that God is His Father and that He Himself is God and not just another man. Had Jesus have had an earthly father then we wouldn’t believe in His deity (that He is God). Had Jesus came into the world without the agent of an earthly mother then we wouldn’t believe in His humanity. But the virgin birth proves that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.
It is surely no accident that the beginning of Matthew’s gospel is devoted to establishing both the regal humanity and the deity of Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus’ being both human and divine, there is no gospel. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the central fact of Christianity. The essence and power of the gospel is that God became man and that, by being fully God and fully man, He was able to reconcile men to God. Jesus’ virgin birth, His substitutionary atoning death, resurrection, ascension, and return are all integral aspects of His deity and the gospel.
After establishing Jesus’ human heredity, Matthew proceeded to establish His divine heredity.
First there was a miraculous conception (1:18)
In His birth Christ was conceived in a borrowed unused womb. We will see that in His death Christ was buried in a borrowed unused tomb. In this section of Scripture we see how God operates. He chooses the things that are not to shame the things that are. He chose Mary and Joseph, two godly but unknown and poor young people, to bring the King of glory into the world. We are reminded in First Corinthians chapter one that God operates in this fashion and that in His choosing us it wasn’t because of our being somebodies but because of our being nobodies. O what a Savior!
This verse makes it plain that Joseph was not the father of Jesus Christ. Joseph was Jesus’ legal earthly guardian-father. Mary and Joseph had been betrothed. To the Jewish people in that day, betrothal (engagement) was equivalent to marriage – except that the man and woman did not live together. They were called husband and wife and at the end of the engagement period the marriage was consummated. If a betrothed woman became pregnant, it was considered adultery.
Second there was a natural misunderstanding (1:19)
Joseph knew that he hadn’t had relations with Mary and yet she was pregnant. But because he was a “righteous man” he didn’t want to disgrace her and planned to send her away secretly. To send away means to divorce.
Legally Joseph could have divorced Mary and had her stoned for adultery but he showed grace and because of it he himself would soon become the recipient of grace – the grace of the Lord Jesus. Because Joseph was a righteous man he was in a predicament. He knew he shouldn’t go through with the marriage but he also knew that he should show grace – so what was he to do?
Third there was a divine explanation (1:20)
While considering what to do the Lord answered Joseph’s predicament by giving him an explanation of what was going on – Mary was pregnant by an act of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was given a couple of commandments in his dream from the angel – (1) do not be afraid and (2) take Mary as your wife. Joseph, the son of David, would be included in the glorious privilege of the arrival and raising of the King.
Fourth, the King’s divine heredity was proven in His names and His birth fulfilling prophecy (1:21-23)
The virgin will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus. The name Jesus means “Yahweh is salvation.” Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua. The name Jesus was given to our Lord by God. He would be named Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.
All this took place so that what was spoken of through the prophet would be fulfilled: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel translated means, “God with us.” This One is God. He is God in flesh and God with us. Jesus is His human name; Christ is His official title; and Immanuel describes who He is – He is God! The King was a Jewish male who was also the divine Son of God.
Finally there was obedience to the commands of the Lord (1:24-25).
After Joseph awoke from his sleep he took steps of obedience that are always necessary to be included in the blessings of God. Notice the verbs of action that characterize obedience – he did; he took; he kept; he called. He did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took Mary as his wife, he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son, and he called His name Jesus.
Matthew has given conclusive proof that Jesus Christ is the Son of Man and the Son of God who alone is the King of kings and Lord of lords. The question is – is Jesus your King? Do you love and serve Jesus as King because He first loved you and gave Himself up for you?