In his account of Jesus’ birth, Matthew places appropriate emphasis on the main thing: The Lord Jesus is the promised and long awaited Messiah. He was conceived miraculously in the womb of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. This Jesus is the everlasting Son of God whose appearing was foretold by the prophets. He is very God of very God made flesh and bone.
Of great interest also is the emphasis Matthew places on Joseph. Along with the heavenly origin and divine credentials of Jesus, Matthew acquaints us with Joseph, a righteous man, betrothed of Mary. Through Joseph’s name and hereditary connection to King David Jesus of Nazareth would lay claim to David’s throne. This passage is all about God’s gracious initiative, and the divine credentials of Jesus Christ. At the same time, this passage is about the man who would raise the young Messiah in his home and give to him his name and royal lineage.
In this “wonderful mixing of the miraculous and the ordinary, the divine and the human” (Hagner, 21) a good man is presented with a terrible dilemma: his betrothed is pregnant. He loved her and was a gentle and compassionate man. Joseph’s response to his betrothed’s pregnancy speaks to his decency. Even in the depths of his disappointment, despite what must have been his sense of having been betrayed, he determined to treat her compassionately. Such is the behavior of a righteous man. So far as he knew, wife-to-be had betrayed him. And yet he abandoned thoughts of revenge and looked for a way to break the engagement without exposing her to public humiliation or even more serious punishment.
Once Joseph discovered the truth of Mary’s pregnancy he took up his God-given assignment, eschewing the inevitable unbelief and derision that was sure to come. Joseph placed upon the helpless infant the name which would define his holy mission: Jesus – Yeshua, the LORD saves. You see, Jesus did not come to improve us or merely provide help in the midst of problems. Jesus came to save us from our sins. God stepped into the world, taking on human flesh in order to demolish the yawning chasm which our sin had fixed in place. Jesus is indeed our Immanuel; God with us.