Bethlehem's Blessing - The Sinners Song

Bible Book: Matthew  1 : 18-25
Subject: Bethlehem; Jesus, Birth of; Salvation; Christmas
Series: Bethlehem Songs

In this message we will look at the Blessing that came from the little city of Bethlehem. The little baby boy that was born on that night so long ago was sent from God to man to be a beautiful blessing for all of mankind.

The child would be called Jesus and in understanding this notable name we see that he is come to offer salvation to the entire world.

God had a distinct plan in mind when he sent forth his son. It was not just something that occurred but it was precisely crafted so that the world would have a savior that could allow man to be once again in good standing with God.

I. Joseph and his Present Anxiety (18/19)

“Hurt of Joseph’s Heart”

We must understand the events of this story to completely grasp the beauty of it. In Luke chapter 1 we find all of the details that lead up to the events found here in Matthew chapter 2, so let’s ponder those events.

A. Elizabeth and her Marvelous Conception

Zacharias & his Virtue

1. His Priestly Works (Luke 1: 5)

2. His Precious Wife (Luke 1: 5/6)

Zacharias & his Void

1. The Absence of this Couple (Luke 1: 7)

2. The Age of this Couple (Luke 1: 7)

Zacharias & his Visitor

1. Reason for this Visit (11/13)

2. Reward of this Visit (13/17)

3. Results of this Visit (18/22)

Zacharias & his Validation

1. Validated the Name of John (Luke 1: 59/63)

2. Validated the Nature of John (LK. 1: 64/80)

B. Mary and her Miraculous Conception

Mary and her Favor (Luke 1: 26/30)

Mary and her Fortune (Luke 1: 31/35)

Mary and her Family (Luke 1: 36/37)

Mary and her Faith (Luke 1: 38)

Mary and her Flight (Luke 1: 39/40)

Mary and her Find (Luke 1: 41/56)

a. Issue of his Espousal & Testimony (18)

(Mat 1:18 KJV)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Joseph and Mary were espoused and we will now take the time to define what this espousal actually meant.

1. Concept of this Espousal

Espousal was something that was part of the marriage process in biblical times. In researching the subject of espousal we find that has two various terms. The terms are betrothal and espousal which are both defined as a period of time that was to pass before the home taking of the bride.

Engagement: “Is a solid pledge between two”

Betrothal: “Is a solemn promise to be faithful”

Espousal: “Is a vow to be faithful, a pledge”

Reasons for this Time Frame

It was set up this way to prove that the wife was not pregnant and had deeper meaning in the days of Joseph and Mary. In those days it was often observed to make sure that the bride had not been raped and was carrying the child of a Roman Soldier.

Requirements of this Time Frame

The requirements for espousal were rather easy to discern, since espousal was customary among Jewish people. The bible mentions espousal in numerous places, it was mentioned in Numbers and in Hosea. The bible promotes the concept of espousal.

2. Conditions of this Espousal

In understanding this subject, let us consider this:

Espousal involved Custom and Ritual

It involved much celebration and pomp. The parents would arrange this espousal and the future bride and groom were to faithfully honor these customs.

Espousal involved Contract and Recompense

The espoused couple was to strictly adhere to the contract that had been previously agreed upon. If they failed to live up to their end of the bargain there were penalties that were agreed upon for compensation.

b. Influx of his Emotions & Thoughts (19)

(Mat 1:19 KJV)

Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

We need to understand what was going on in the mind of Joseph. Mary had previously been gone to visit Elizabeth her cousin and she had been gone for a 3 month period. Upon her arrival she informs Joseph that she is pregnant with a child, not just any child but with God’s child.

This might have been a bit more than most men could handle at this point and time. This was the woman that Joseph loved and they had never been with each other intimately as a husband and wife. How could this be, his espoused wife was with a child and it most certainly was not his child.

The couple was in the betrothal waiting period and now the very thing that anyone would fear was happening, the woman was with child and it was not the husbands. We need to understand that the legal age for marriage among the Jews was 12 for the girl and 13 for the guy. If they were unmarried by their early 20’s they would face social embarrassment and shame.

Let us consider the various options that Joseph had before him in making his decision. Let us keep in mind that Joseph did not believe that her child was the son of God. The truth of the matter is his heart was broken because he thought she had committed adultery and he had to figure out how to handle the matter to salvage her reputation and to maintain his sanity.

1. He could complete the marriage

Surely Joseph was relieved to know that Mary had not been unfaithful but at the same time must have felt some extreme foreboding – he was about to become the step-father of the Messiah! Since Joseph was an “upright” man, we can conclude that he was familiar with the Major Prophets and, like all of Israel, was eager for the arrival of the Savior. That he was of the “house of David” (and, unbeknown to himself, had been foreordained for the calling) could have Betrothal and Marriage Ron Kienzle Page 5 of 5 helped him overcome shock and surprise at being chosen as the baby’s earthly parent. As the Jews struggled with their oppression they turned often to uplifting scriptures, especially those in Isaiah that predicted the restoration of their freedom, and Joseph would have known those passages by heart:

Isaiah 7:13 through Isaiah 7:14 (NRSVA) “13 Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

Mary prepared by God from her conception and Joseph were the perfect parents for the Incarnation.”

Ron Kienzle April 2008

2. He could abandon Mary, shame himself

Joseph could have considered the possibility of simply walking away. Such abandonment practice was punished severely with fines and a form of shunning and that might have been the factor that caused him to think twice about it. One might think that whatever the punishment, it would have befallen Joseph and Mary would have been the victim thereby gaining sympathy rather than scorn. There seems to be no precedent we can rely on for forming an hypothesis about what might have happened to Mary under the abandonment scenario.

Ron Kienzle April 2008

3. He could shun her, expose her to public

Joseph would have been certain that Mary had been unfaithful and had deceived him. After all, he knew quite well that the pregnancy was not his doing. Joseph loved Mary intensely and did not want to “disgrace” her. The Greek word is πáñáδåéγμáτßζù which in this context can be read to mean “to show alongside (the public), that is, expose to infamy:—make a public example, put to an open shame.”13 Did his “uprightness” or love for the Law make it too difficult for him to take her home? Probably this and natural human jealousy made it so. It must have been an agonizing trial for him to consider his alternatives in light of his love of Mary on one hand and his desire to be obedient to the Law on the other. It was, no doubt, in this agony as he lay trying to sleep, that the Heavenly Messenger came to him with a message of both relief and consternation.

Ron Kienzle April 2008

4. He could just divorce her legally

“Exploring his last option first, we must consider what divorce meant at the beginning of the Common Era and how it was that Joseph considered it. The scripture passage uses the Greek word Pπïλýù, which can be translated as meaning “to free fully, that is, (literally) relieve, release, dismiss, or (figuratively) let die, pardon, or (specifically) divorce.”7 Again, from Holman we read:

DIVORCE [is] [t]he legal ending of a marriage. From early time provision was made for divorce among the Israelites (Deut. 24:1-4). Presumably prior to this decree, a wife could be put out of the home at the pleasure of the husband. Now he was required to write out “a bill of divorce” and give it to his wife as proof that he was divorcing her. This gave some dignity and protection to the divorced woman.

Divorce was common enough among the Jews in New Testament times to cause division among the rabbis as to the valid basis for divorce. The passage in Deuteronomy did not give clear guidelines. “Because he hath found some uncleanness in her” (Deut. 24:1) left room for interpretation. One group of rabbis insisted that divorce could be granted only if the wife was immoral. Another group argued that divorce could be secured by the husband if the wife displeased him in any way. Among the Jews, only the husband had the right to secure a divorce. The wife might leave her husband, but she could not divorce him. The situation was different in the Roman world. There the wife had equal rights with the husband in the matter of divorce.”

Ron Kienzle April 2008

The bible tells us how this matter would have been handled between Joseph and Mary. He would have given her “the writ of repudiation” or a bill of divorce. In doing this he would have had to had 2 witnesses so this would not been done in secret. If Joseph actually divorced Mary the entire city would know before long that this had happened.

The bible clearly tells us that Joseph was a just man; this means he was equitable and innocent in character. He would have loved the Law of Moses and honored it in his daily lifestyle. In observing this Law he would have had to turn her over to the authorities and she would likely be stoned for her unfaithfulness.

(Lev 20:10 KJV)

And the man that committeth adultery with [another] man's wife, [even he] that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

In Egypt the adulteress would have their nose cut off, in Persia they would cut off her nose and ears, but in Israel it was death by stoning.

We have no idea how the conversation went between Joseph and Mary. In hearing her share her story with him, his heart had to be crushed. It seems clear that no matter what Mary had shared with him, Joseph had rejected her version. He was now trying to discern which path he would take in dissolving this relationship.

II. Angel and his Peaceful Clarity (20/23)

“Delight of Joseph’s Dream”

Joseph was not a man of haste but of Grace, the bible says that he gave some time to think on those things that he and Mary had discussed. The man’s heart had literally been ripped out, but he would not hastily react.

We can find the peace of God for any situation if we allow the proper time for God to work. In watching people handle crisis to often they fail to allow the Lord to show up and show out, due to their hastiness.

(Psalms 25: 9)

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

A) Clarity Concerning the Seed (20)

“Word that was Helpful”

(Mat 1:20 KJV)

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Joseph is trying to ponder the situation and is allowing time for meditation, when the angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream. The angel of the Lord had many appearances throughout the bible, and especially in the Christmas story. We actually have various angels working within this setting to see that the events happen as God had previously planned and predicted.

An angel is literally “a messenger from God”.

(Hebrews 1: 13/14) – “13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”

The term “angel of the Lord” appears 12 times in the New Testament. It appears 5 times in the Christmas story and 1 time this angel appeared again to Joseph while they were down in Egypt.

(Mat 1:20 KJV)

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”

(Mat 1:24 KJV)

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

(Mat 2:13 KJV)

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

(Mat 2:19 KJV)

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

(Luk 1:11 KJV)

And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

(Luk 2:9 KJV)

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

We also find the angel Gabriel appearing in the nativity story on 2 various occasions.

(Luk 1:19 KJV)

And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

(Luk 1:26 KJV)

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

The angel appeared to Joseph and offered him a word of peace for his perplexity. The angel offered him a word of comfort for his confusion, and hope for helplessness.

In speaking to Joseph in this dream the angel is going to help Joseph move forward in this situation. God spoke to Joseph on at least 3 and possibly 4 occasions:

(Mat 1:20 KJV)

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

(Mat 2:13 KJV)

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

(Mat 2:19 KJV)

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

(Mat 2:22 KJV)

But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

Acknowledges his Ancestry

Alleviates his Anxiety

Affirms his Answer

The angel tells Joseph all is okay, the story that Mary had just shared with him was true. The couple was chosen of God to raise the very son of God.

Certifies his Faith

Calms his Fears

Clarifies his Findings

B) Clarity Concerning the Son (21)

“Word that was Insightful”

(Mat 1:21 KJV)

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

The angel now gives very clear insight into the events that were soon to occur with this family. The baby will be a boy, due to his previous prophecy.

(Isa 9:6 KJV)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

(Isa 9:7 KJV)

Of the increase of [his] government and peace [there shall be] no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

The angel not only announces that this baby would be a boy but he also picks out the name for this baby. The couple will name this newborn boy, Jesus. Let us consider the meaning of this notable name.

In the bible we have 5 various people that went by this name or surname, they are as follows:

1. Joshua (Captain of Israel)

2. Jesus son of Eliezer (Christ ancestor, Luke 3:29)

3. Jesus Christ (God’s Son)

4. Jesus Barabbas (The released thief)

5. Jesus Surnamed Justice (Colossians 4:11)

The name Jesus actually originates from the word “Savior” which places emphasis upon his ability to save the world from their sin.

Jesus - “Jehovah is Salvation”

Emmanuel - “God with Us”

Christ - “Anointed One”

Savior - “Deliver, Preserver”

The bottom line of this proclamation is that Jesus would be born and he would have the ability do deliver people from sin. God has allowed his son to dwell among mankind and in doing so the God Man would have the anointing of God and he would deliver the world from the claws of sin.

C) Clarity Concerning the Scriptures (22/23)

“Word that was Faithful”

(Mat 1:22 KJV)

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

(Mat 1:23 KJV)

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

In this we see that God was tying all of the pieces together to make sure that every portion of prophecy was fulfilled concerning Jesus and his birth. The bible is filled with various passages of scripture about Jesus Christ and everyone one of them have been fulfilled down to the smallest seemingly insignificant detail. It would take us most of this service to reveal all of the various scriptures dealing with facts about the life of the anointed one that would be born in the land of Judah from the house and linage of David. The bible has never been proven wrong on anyone of it’s various prophecies, contrary to this the bible has always been proven as absolutely right.

(Isa 7:14 KJV)

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

This prophecy had been revealed 740 years before the birth of Christ during the reign of Ahaz king of Judah.

The virgin did have a child.

The child was a baby boy.

They did call the child Emmanuel, because God did come down to mankind in the form of his son.


III. Jesus and his Pronounced Superiority (24/25)

“Openness of Joseph’s Obedience”

Joseph was a man of deep integrity and absolutely wanted to fulfill the will of God.

A) Faithful Man “Course is Plainly Noted”

(Mat 1:24 KJV)

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

Upon rising from his time of sleeping Joseph promptly took Mary immediately as his wife. In doing this he displayed full commitment to Mary and her conception story. Joseph knew that the Lord had planted his seed in the womb of Mary and the child would grow up to become the savior of the world. I think that in this dream God showed Joseph that Mary and Himself were chosen vessels that were hand picked to be the earthly parents of this baby boy, so Joseph accepted the plan.

B) Fantastic Moment “Child is Prophetically Named”

(Mat 1:25 KJV)

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Joseph honored the prophetic words that declared that a virgin would bring forth a son. It was his choice that he would not be intimate with Mary at all until after the birth of this her first son.

I wonder how many people realize that Jesus was the first born son of Mary but he was not her last son or child that she would give conceive. The bible tells us that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

(Mat 13:55 KJV)

Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

(Mat 13:56 KJV)

And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this [man] all these things?

Joseph named the baby Jesus just as he had been instructed in the dream. The name Jesus places emphasis upon Jesus as being the Redeemer for the sins of mankind.

(2Cr 5:21 KJV)

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

(Jhn 1:29 KJV)

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.