Jesus’ birth, as Matthew tells it, includes tense and painful moments – a marriage falling apart, political deception, escape from danger, even infant slaughter. Yet, for every difficult scene, there is an accompanying Scripture fulfilled. This is to show that no opposition can stop God’s plans from coming to fruition.
The first Scripture fulfilled is a prophecy about a virgin conceiving a child who will be called Immanuel, which means God with us (Isaiah 7:14). Mary is this pregnant virgin (Matthew 1:18). And before her fiancé Joseph can divorce her, an angel comes and tells him to name the child Jesus, which means God saves (Matthew 1:21). God would save people from their sins by being with them in Jesus.
The next two fulfilled Scriptures are about suffering children and Egypt. The king over Bethlehem sought to kill Jesus by putting every boy two years and under in the region to death (Matthew 2:18). So Jesus and his family flee to Egypt. This echoes the story of Moses when Pharaoh slaughtered Israelite babies (Exodus 1:22). Jesus will be the new Moses who escapes the tyrant’s hand and rises up to redeem Israel once and for all.
To fulfill the prophets yet again, God tells Joseph it is safe to leave Egypt and return home. So, Jesus leaves Egypt just as Israel did (Matthew 2:20). So Jesus will not only be the new Moses but also the new Israel, succeeding in every place the Hebrew people failed. And in this Jesus will accomplish what Israel never could: complete obedience to the Lord.
Why is this good news?
Everything about Jesus’ birth would have gone wrong were it not for divine intervention. Mary and Joseph would have gotten a divorce, Jesus would have been killed by Herod, Joseph wouldn’t have fled to safety in Egypt, and the family wouldn’t have lived where God wanted them.
God was intervening in the worst situation to fulfill the grand story of salvation he had been telling for thousands of years.
This is good news because just as God intervened then, he intervenes now. Were it not for Jesus, we would be dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1). But Jesus intervenes to bring the spiritually dead to life. He saves us, as his name promised.
Just as the circumstances of Jesus’ birth fulfilled Old Testament passages, so Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection fulfilled the names he was given. Jesus is Immanuel - God with us to save us.
See for yourself.
May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who intervenes to bring about salvation. And Jesus as the one who is with us to save us from our sins.