“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us).” Matthew 1:23
Matthew 1:23 is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus’ virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), and the story of Joseph’s love for Mary, and his faith and obedience to God. It is also about a miracle involving the Holy Spirit, and how it is the foundation to understanding that Jesus is both fully human, Son of Man and fully divine, Son of God. Jesus is both man and God.
The Jewish marriage consisted of three phases. The first phase was engagement where the parents or matchmaker arranged the future marriage of a boy and girl. The second phase was betrothal where the girl could either refuse or accept. If she accepted, both entered an official and legal commitment before witnesses for a year while she continued to live with her parents. Both were considered husband and wife, but did not enter into a sexual relationship, as sex during betrothal was adultery. The third phase was the wedding where the bride went to live with the husband.
The story of Joseph, a carpenter by trade, and Mary is told in Matt 1:19-25. During the time Mary was betrothed to Joseph, Mary was found to be pregnant. Joseph being a man who was obedient and faithful to God (a righteous man v19), and who did not want to disgrace Mary publicly, decided to divorce her in secret. Joseph showed mercy and his love for Mary. Can you imagine all the emotions and questions Joseph had?
Then in a dream, an angel appeared to Joseph and said, “Do not be afraid to marry Mary, since what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus.“ (v 20-21) This helped Joseph to come to an understanding of the realty of Jesus’ identity. In Luke 1:26-35, after the angel told Mary she would conceive and give birth to a son, she asked (v 34-35) “‘How can it be, since I have not been intimate with a man (or since I am a virgin)?‘ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”’ There is no question Mary was a virgin when she conceived and still a virgin when Jesus was born (Matt 1:25). This resulted in Jesus being both fully divine and fully human. It is difficult to understand how this supernatural conception occurred. Remember God created all things and anything is possible with Him. Jesus was the Son of God since His conception was by the Holy Spirit.
Joseph trusted and obeyed God’s instruction and immediately married Mary. What a dedicated love Joseph had for Mary and for God. The angel called Joseph son of David (Matt 1:20), indicating his royal lineage. Joseph was not the biological father, but he was Jesus’ legal father by his marriage to Mary. This fact would qualify Jesus as an heir of David. Mary was also a descendant of David (Luke 3:23-38). “Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet (Isaiah) might be fulfilled.” (Matt 1:22-23).
~ Jim Gress