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Matthew 1: 18-25 ESV
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,
25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Each of the Gospel accounts are unique depictions of the life of Jesus. While all were written under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, each of the individual authors wrote with a specific purpose, from a certain perspective, and to a particular audience. These elements help shape the author’s narrative and provided a unifying theme throughout each of the four Gospels.
In Matthew’s Gospel, he writes to a predominantly Jewish audience with the purpose of identifying Jesus as the long-awaited Old Testament Messiah. Matthew’s Gospel begins with a genealogical history of Jesus, showing him to be “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1). He introduces Jesus as the true fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Israel. Likewise, Matthew’s birth narrative (Matt 1:18-2:23) repeatedly draws his reader’s eyes back to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy with the arrival of Jesus. This concerted effort by Matthew to identify Jesus as the promised Messiah is clearly articulated in his account of the angel’s visit and message to Jesus’s earthly father, Joseph.
In the latter half of the first chapter of his Gospel, Matthew introduces his readers to Jesus’s earthly parents. His mother Mary and more specifically his adoptive father Joseph. In discovering the pregnancy of his soon to be wife, Joseph made plans to divorce Mary quietly. However, these plans are upended by a divine visit. The angel of the Lord comes to Joseph announcing that the child growing in Mary’s womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that she will bear a son. The angel then gives Joseph specific instructions to name the child Jesus. The name Jesus means “The Lord saves” and carries with it a very specific connotation. In the Old Testament, parents would give this name to their sons as a symbol of hopefulness in the coming of the promised Messiah who would save God’s people. Here, the angel charges Joseph to name his son, Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). In naming the child Jesus, and speaking of the forgiveness of sin, the angel is making known to Joseph that the child in Mary’s womb is the long awaited Messiah, through whom God will bring reconciliation and redemption to his people.
At the end of Matthew’s account of the angel’s visit to Joseph, he refers to an Old Testament promise given to the people through the prophet Isaiah. In the seventh chapter of Isaiah, the people of Judah are under the threat of attack from a strong coalition of nations. Ahaz, the King of Judah, has attempted to enlist the Assyrians to help defend Judah, but the Assyrians are unable to rescue Judah from her plight. The Lord comes and speaks to Ahaz, through the prophet Isaiah, and assures the king that no harm will come to Judah. The Lord promises to protect his people from their enemies. As a sign of his coming deliverance to the people of Judah, the Lord declares, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14). This child will be called Immanuel, which means “God is with us”; and will remind the people that the sovereign God of the universe is among them. All other powers are subservient to his rule. This promise is of great significance to Matthew and the purpose for which he is writing. Matthew proposes to his readers that Jesus of Nazareth, the virgin born, adopted son of Joseph is the final fulfillment of God’s promise to Judah. Jesus is the true Immanuel, “God with us” and has come in the flesh as a sign of God’s rule over creation and love for his people.
This name and title, Jesus and Immanuel, are important to the message Matthew seeks to communicate. The ESV Study Bible notes, “The name ‘Jesus’ specifies what he does (“God saves”) while the messianic title ‘Immanuel’ specifies who he is (“God with us”).” The promised Messiah, Jesus, has come as the Word of God incarnate. Through his life, death, and resurrection, provided the way of redemption. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
 ESV Study Bible 2001, Pg. 1822