Advent, Christmas & the Nativity: Immanuel, God With Us, Is that good news?

Merry Christmas!

In Matthew’s Gospel, he states that the birth of Jesus fulfills Isaiah 7:14.

Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:20-23

Fulfillment in Matthew:

Matthew employs the phrase “this was to fulfill” a number of times in his gospel before citing a passage from the Old Testament. While his fulfillment language can sometimes refer to a rather direct prediction, like the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, the city of David, this prediction/fulfillment scenario does not exhaust the phrase.

The phrase is better understood as meaning something more like “this (event) brings to completion” or “this (event) is the fullest expression of”. As far as we can tell, no Jews were expecting the Messiah or Messsiah(s) to be born of a virgin. Continue reading “Advent, Christmas & the Nativity: Immanuel, God With Us, Is that good news?”

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Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part VI: Strange Women or Xenophobia & Genealogy 

While those of you who have read my previous posts are scrambling to put together a model of a first century Bethlehemite home complete with guest room and attached stable, I am departing slightly from the Nativity scene itself as I turn to Matthew’s genealogy which precedes his passing reference to Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem.

In his genealogy of Joseph’s line, Matthew includes references to four women from Abrahamic/Davidic line. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah (or Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon).

Why does Matthew mention these women at the beginning of his gospel? As with most good storytelling, there is no single right answer to this question. That is, I think Matthew likely had multiple reasons for highlighting these women at the beginning of his gospel. In this post, I have no intention of being exhaustive because that would be exhausting.

Who is Tamar? Continue reading “Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part VI: Strange Women or Xenophobia & Genealogy “

Advent, Christmas, and Nativity Part II: Just How Round Was Yon Virgin?

Last time, I took away the Donkey from your Nativity set. But I put it back.

I promise that I won’t take Mary away. Rather, in the Spirit of Christmas, I seek only to relieve a bit of the Donkey’s burden, to make his pilgrimage to Bethlehem a little lighter. In the process, I also hope to raise the status of Joseph in the eyes of every woman who has been “great with child”. Maybe, just maybe, he did not make his labouring wife ride a donkey for 70 miles.

Was Mary Nine Months Pregnant on the Journey to Bethlehem?

Let’s go through the same process we used in the last post, shall we?

What says, Luke? Continue reading “Advent, Christmas, and Nativity Part II: Just How Round Was Yon Virgin?”