Fourth Sunday of Advent | December 22, 2019
18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Matthew 1:18-25 New Living Translation (NLT)
Here we are – the Fourth Sunday of Advent – in the Sundays leading up to this, we have been looking at John the Baptist – the one who prepared the way for Jesus. This week’s gospel reading brings us to Matthew and his account of how Jesus was born. It is here that we find Joseph, who is engaged to be married to a woman named Mary. An angel comes to Joseph and again the words are “Do not be afraid!” I mentioned it during my sermon last week that we often think of angels as cute and cuddly, but they were fearsome creatures because they were part of the heavenly armies. The angel comes to Joseph because Mary is pregnant. This greatly disturbed Joseph and he thought about what he should do. He wanted to do what was right, but also what was just.
It is here that we learn that the angel tells Joseph to continue the marriage plans because the child is special. The child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and his name is to be Jesus. The name Jesus means, “God saves.”
Interesting, for 400 years the people had been crying out “Hosanna,” which we think of as a word of praise, but it is a cry – a cry of help meaning “God save us.” Jesus is the answer to the prayers of the people.
Matthew connects this angel visitation with the prophet Isaiah and reminds us that this baby will be Immanuel – or God with us. John writes:
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.John 1:14, 16-17
On this final Sunday of Advent, we remember that Jesus came to be God with us – to be God incarnate – or God in the flesh. He humbled himself to come to earth to save us from our sins – so that He knows about all of our trials, and testings, and burdens. It is Jesus – the God who saves, who went to the cross to die for our sins. It is Jesus who rose again on the third day. It is this Jesus who will return someday. I encourage you if you do know know this Jesus, to seek Him out and turn your heart toward the God who saves.