The First Christmas: Matthew 1:23
“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” (Matthew 1:23). This was an announcement by the angel of the first Christmas. There are several promises that can be drawn from this verse that are extremely relevant to us and the church today.
Christmas Promises in Matthew 1:23
- Behold. Matthew is attempting to grab the attention of his readers. He has something important to say. He wants the readers to listen carefully to the announcement he’s about to make. “Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice” (Hebrews 3:7). Let’s listen carefully to what the Holy Spirit would say to us. “We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1).
- Fulfilled prophecy. “This was done, that it might be fulfilled” (Matthew 1:22). This is nearly an exact quote from the Old Testament. “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The only difference is that in Matthew His name is interpreted to mean “God with us.” The coming of Christ fulfilled over 300 prophecies. No religion on earth can make this claim concerning its founders. Jesus fulfilled all that was written concerning Himself to the minutest of details.
- Born of a virgin. His conception was not just by a young women as some have interpreted Isaiah 7:14 to mean. Mary was a young women who had never known a man intimately – A Virgin. This is fundamental to our faith as Christians, to the Christmas message and to the gospel itself. It is something we must get people’s attention with and proclaim loudly. Jesus’ coming was of a virgin birth – the miraculous conception!
- His name. The meaning of His name here in Matthew 1:23 is declared to be “God with us.” This is not only the meaning of His name but a description of who this babe in the manger was and who our Savior is. This was not your average child being born. Jesus was not simply a great teacher, prophet, or rabbi. He was God incarnate (John 1:1, 1:14, 1:18; 1 Timothy 3:16; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 1:3 and 1:8; Revelation 1:8). This is essential to the Christian faith.
- Reconciliation. This is essential to our Christian faith because He had to be both God and man in order to redeem us and reconcile man’s relationship with God (Romans 5:12-19). Job cried out, “Neither is there any daysman (mediator) between us, that might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33). Jesus (Emmanuel or Immanuel), this babe in the manger, was the answer to Job’s plea. He became our daysman (mediator), who was both God and man, that could lay His hand on God and man and bring the two together again (1 John 1:1-3; Romans 5:10-11).
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).
It’s incumbent upon us to bring this message of reconciliation to mankind. God has “given to us the ministry of reconciliation. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
- Leading God out into the open. Jesus came “to make all men see” (Ephesians 3:9 KJV) and give us an understanding of who God really is. Jesus responded to Phillip’s request, “Lord, show us the Father. Jesus said to him, Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, Show us the Father” (John 14:8-9). When we look at Jesus, we see the exact representation of all the Father is. Hebrews 1:3 declares He is “the express image of His person” (NKJV) or “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (NASB).
Jesus was very God incarnate (John 1:1 and 14). Jesus was the manifestation of all God is. We can truly grasp who God is in the face of the Christ of Christmas. “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18).
“Declare” here is the Greek “exegeomai” and means to expound or reveal a mystery, to lead out into the open. No one had ever seen God in His full essence (Exodus 33:20) and Jesus came to reveal to us the mystery of all God is – “the express image of His person, the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus came to lead God out into the open for all to see.
As His followers, we must make it our goal to “to make all men see” (Ephesians 3:9 KJV), to lead Jesus out into the open for all to see. Let’s declare Christ this Christmas and the year(s) to come. 1 John 4:12 says, “No man hath seen God at any time – God dwells in us” (1 John 4:12). God dwells in us giving us the power for all that pertains to both life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). We are to lead Jesus out into the open for all to see. We are His “epistle (letter to the world) known and read of all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2).
- The presence of God. “God with us” was not merely the meaning of His name but it was also the promise of His presence. In Matthew 1:23 God was making us a promise and “all the promises of God in Him are Yea, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). We have the promise of God’s presence being with us. Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
This Christmas and throughout the new year God desires to manifest Himself to us in a very special and powerful way. Let’s believe Him for it, walk in it and practice His presence daily. This is the message we must proclaim this Christmas and the year(s) to come, the promise of His eternal presence – “God with us.”