February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. . . . And he gave him the name Jesus.”—Matthew 1:23–25 (NIV)
There’s something we need to understand when it comes to the four books in the Bible commonly referred to as The Gospels. These four books are identified by the names of their authors: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But they all point to one person: Jesus. We also need to recognize that all four books emphasize a different aspect of Jesus’ life. Mark highlights His servant nature towards all mankind. Luke emphasizes the humanity of Jesus and His relatability to us, while John goes in depth to reveal His divine nature as the Son of God. This brings us to the Gospel of Matthew.
What aspect of Jesus’ life does Matthew focus on? To appreciate the answer to this question we need to remember that Jesus didn’t just step onto the earthly scene without any historical context or attachment. Quite the opposite! The entire Old Testament, beginning with Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden and culminating with the establishment of the nation of Israel, is all purposefully pointing to the coming of someone. That someone is a Savior, a Deliverer, a Rescuer, a Promised King who will fix what’s been broken since Eden.
Matthew’s Gospel makes this all-important connection between the promises of the Old Testament to the person of Jesus. One author said it this way: “Matthew serves as the hinge upon which the Testaments pivot. . . . Matthew explains in ‘mini-Bible’ form God’s entire plan of the ages from Genesis to Revelation . . . an essential link between the Old and New Testaments.” It shows us how Jesus, and only Jesus, is the fulfillment of all that was forecasted about this King who would right all wrongs. And Matthew’s Gospel does this by making direct reference to particular prophecies from the Old Testament and showing how they were realized in and through the life of Jesus.
It’s been calculated there are no less than twenty-three such prophecies proving that Jesus is the Promised King to come, and we see the first such reference in the passage above. It’s there we read how and angel from God spoke to Joseph in a dream that his virgin fiancé, Mary, was to conceive a son through the Holy Spirit. This son would be unlike anyone before or since, a human child yet also the eternal Son of God in the form of one person!
Why did Matthew specifically put this in his record of Jesus’ life? Because he wants us to see how the miraculous conception of Jesus was the fulfillment of this prophecy from Isaiah over 700 years earlier: “The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 NIV). The virgin birth establishes Jesus’ divinity and perfection through the Holy Spirit’s work in Mary’s womb. In the most amazing and basic way, the Holy Spirit unites humanity to the perfect, divine Word of God, showing us that Jesus is and always was the union of God and man . . . Immanuel, God with us.
I hope you see the importance of both this prophetic reference and all prophetic references in Matthew. It shows us how all of history, every story, every moment, every declaration, every commandment, every psalm, and every prophecy was all strategically placed to authenticate Jesus of Nazareth, a humble carpenter from an oppressed corner of the ancient world, as the sovereign ruler of heaven and earth. Nobody needs to look any further than Jesus to find their King. In fact, it’s futile to even try and do so. His life, and His life alone, fits the contours of the promises and prophecies that trace all the way back to the beginning in Eden.
In a world that’s increasingly confused about just about everything, we can hold fast to the fact that Jesus is King. All that we need and long for is found in Him. He’s “it” . . . and that’s never going to change!
Pause: What’s the specific focus of Matthew’s Gospel? How does it differ in emphasis from the other Gospels?
Practice: As you read through the Book of Matthew, take note of each prophecy that’s fulfilled by Jesus and use this to strengthen your faith in Him.
Pray: Lord, what a gift You’ve given us! What a treasure Your Word is, especially as it confirms who You are and what You’ve done for us. May we be faithful to pick up what You’ve laid down for us as students of the Scriptures. Strengthen our faith in You as we apply our minds and hearts to what’s been written by Your Spirit. Amen!
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.