Matthew, one of the 12 apostles and author of the Gospel according to Matthew, seems to have gotten much of his understanding of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus from talking to Jesus' earthly father, Joseph. While Luke's rendition draws on Mary's viewpoint and experiences, Matthew's narrative focus is Joseph. He relates intimate details that are personal to Joseph's experience. Particularly his dreams and the resultant fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
JOSEPH'S (and thus Jesus' earthly) ANCESTRY
Beginning in the first chapter of Matthew, Jesus is immediately identified as (vs. 1) "Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." This latter is key because God promised King David that "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever." (II Sam 7:16) The only way David's throne could be eternally established is if a descendant of his was the Messiah and was thus in a position for an eternal reign.
Matthew begins his recitation of Jesus' genealogy with Abraham and ends with Joseph, identifying Joseph as part of this lineage. Although Joseph's father's name was Jacob, when the angel speaks to Joseph in a dream (vs. 20) he refers to him as "Joseph son of David." Luke also made a point of mentioning that the reason Joseph went to Bethlehem to register for the census is because "he belonged to the house and line of David."
Matthew confirmed Joseph and Mary's insistence that not only was Joseph not Jesus' biological father, but that her pregnancy was an act of God. First he did so by way of the genealogy. Throughout the list, Matthew consistently says so-and-so is the father of so-and-so. "Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan,...etc." But when he comes to Jesus, he says "and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."
In vs. 18 it is emphasized that though Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, "before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit." The pregnancy clearly came before they had marital relations. Matthew emphasizes this again in verse 25. Joseph had no sexual union with his wife until after she gave birth to Jesus.
Of particular interest to my study this morning was the series of dreams God sent Jesus, and not only Joseph's faith but his actions in responding to them. It was through Joseph's faith that several Messianic prophesies were fulfilled.
1st Event and 1st Dream: An angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, telling him to complete the marriage by taking the already pregnant Mary to his home. When she gave birth to her son, Joseph was to give him the name Jesus (which means, "the Lord saves.")
The prophecy fulfilled: (vs. 22-23) "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel - which means, "God with us." Matthew is equating Isa. 7:14 with Mary's circumstances.
2nd Event: Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the city of David, at the time she went into labor because King Herod had commanded everyone to return to the city of their fathers for a census. And Joseph was of the lineage of David, so he took his new wife there.
In Matt. 2:5-6, the Magi explain to King Herod that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea according to the words of the prophet Micah: "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."
3rd Event and 2nd and 3rd Dream: An angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, telling him to take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt and stay there until further notice.
What's wonderful is that Joseph got up in the middle of the night, right after having the dream, got his wife and the child out of bed and left for Egypt immediately! Talk about an act of faith! They stayed there until Joseph received another angelic visitation in a dream that told him to return the family to Israel.
Through this series of events and obedience, the following prophesy was fulfilled: Matt. 2:15 - "And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'Out of Egypt I called my son.'"
4th Event and 4th Dream: When Joseph and his family returned to Israel, although Jesus had been born in Bethlehem in Judea, Herod's son Archelaus was now reigning over that area in place of his father. Archelaus was even more cruel than his father, and Joseph, bent on protecting his wife and her son, was afraid to take them there.
Warned not to do so in a dream, Joseph instead took them to a district called Galilee and settled into a town called Nazareth. Through this his actions fulfilled "what was said through the prophets: He (Jesus) will be called a Nazarene." (Matt. 2:23)
He will be born in Bethlehem.
He will be called out of Egypt.
He will be called a Nazarene.