What was Jesus’ birth really like?
Let us understand the circumstances of Jesus' birth.
Let’s look at Matthew 1:18-25, Joseph's dilemma, the meanings of Jesus' names and whether or not Mary remained a perpetual virgin.
Matthew 1:18 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.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Joseph’s Dilemma (vs 18)
Joseph, betrothed to Mary, found her pregnant. A groom typically prepared a home for his bride. That could take a year. When all was prepared, he came to collect his bride, like Christ comes for the Church. Joseph decided to cancel the wedding privately for Mary’s sake. An angel said this was a sign of a new age of peace.
Joseph’s Mercy (vs 19)
Imagine being Joseph, engaged to Mary. You feel betrayed. You don’t want to disgrace her, nor have her punished. An angel says to marry her. Her pregnancy is of the Holy Spirit and her son would bring salvation. You marry her knowing there will be gossip. You also know the child’s name, Jesus (God saves) and Immanuel (God with us).
Jesus’ Name (vs 20-21)
False gods and idols cannot save, and insulting the name of the one who can is foolish. Not taking a rest day causes stress and early death. Dishonoring parents causes broken families, poverty and crime. Murder and adultery destroy families, and theft destroys neighborhood security. False witnesses fill the land with distrust. Coveting causes crime and war.
Jesus means “YHWH (the Lord) saves.” Only he can rescue us from damnation. His name is the hope of the whole world (Matthew 12:15-21). Jesus’ name heals (Mark 9:38-40). Catholics take Jesus name seriously. The Society of the Holy Name prays for blasphemers. His Greek name is abbreviated ΙΗΣ1, IHS in English, a sign seen in churches everywhere.
1 Iota, Eta, Sigma
References: biblestudytools.com, newadvent.org/cathen, christogenea.org
Central Christianity (vs 22-23)
Jesus is the center of Christianity, his birth, resurrection, salvation, his divinity and humanity. Controversies over Jesus still exist. In 451 AD, the last Ecumenical Council widely recognized by Protestants, contributed perhaps the greatest consensus of opinions on Christ in Christian history, affirming the Trinity, Christ's virgin birth, his humanity and his deity, and his two natures in one person.
Science tells us that Earth is only a temporary home and is trying to find another planet far, far away. Humanity sees our salvation as a species in “technology with us.” The Bible also tells us that Earth is only a temporary home and that our long-term answer is found not in “technology with us” but in “God with us.”
Jesus means Joshua. Two Joshuas were forerunners of Jesus. Joshua the son of Nun conquered 31 cities in Canaan beginning around 1400 BC. Jesus was born to save each one of us. We cannot save ourselves from death, but Jesus can. Joshua and the promised land symbolize Jesus and eternal life. Joshua the son of Jozadak was a high priest (Haggai 1). Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 8:3-5).
(References: newadvent.org/cathen; The Oxford History of the Biblical World. 1998. Oxford University Press; biblearchaeology.org; orthodoxytoday.org)
Perpetual Virginity? (verse 25)
Was Mary a Perpetual Virgin? Verse 25 says Joseph did not have relations with Mary until her son was born. Elsewhere we read of Jesus’ siblings (Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55, John 7:3, Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5). Contrary to perpetual virgin dogma, the Greek word for cousins was not used. John 19:26-27 only indicates that Mary was a spiritual mother and does not prove she had no children of her own to look after her.
Psalm 69 is quoted several times in the New Testament as referring to not only David, but also Jesus (John 2:13–17, John 15:24–25, John 19:28–30, Romans 15:3). It states plainly that “my brothers” are “my mother’s children” (vs 8). We ought not to hide our doctrinal errors behind infallibility, but repent and admit truth.
Jesus was God with us, is God with us every hour of every day and will be God with us forever.