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).
The first strokes of brush of the painter on the canvas are just as important as the last strokes. From the first page, the novelist begins developing the plot. The long jumper has to plot out every step before the jump to maximize their effort. Matthew’s Gospel, more so than the other evangelists, goes to great lengths to describe the life and ministry of Jesus, as a fulfillment of Yahweh’s plans for the Messiah. Fulfillment is a key element in this Gospel because the evangelist reminds the readers of the many Old Testament prophecies pointing forward to Christ.
From the very beginning, even before the foundations of the world had been laid, Yahweh had a definite plan for how He would rescue and redeem His children. Long before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah provides clues to God’s plan. Even from the time that Adam and Eve fell into sin and were banished from the garden, Yahweh revealed a portion of His plan. Therefore, the Old Testament demonstrates the earliest brush strokes, the initial plot development and the first steps that would all lead to a virgin giving birth to a Son, who is Immanuel, God with us.
The Old Testament is too often neglected by the people of God. Complaints (or excuses) by Christians for avoiding Old Testament often center around violence and scandal. Strange that we, who live in the modern soap operas of Washington D.C., Hollywood, and even our own neighborhoods and homes would be shocked by the sinful behavior of God’s children. Actually, that is the beauty of the Old Testament and likely why Matthew begins his Gospel with the genealogy of Jesus. He shows how God’s plan of salvation is carried out even through people caught in scandal and skeletons in the proverbial closet. Jesus’ family tree is no different than any other family tree because it is full of names that would have only be uttered under hushed tones (David and Bathsheba, Salmon and Rahab, Judah and Tamar, Boaz and Ruth). Yet, God could bring His plan of salvation through a messy family tree such as this, but that would also account for why Jesus would be born of a virgin, to be His sinless servant.
During this Advent, may you be blessed as you read and hear God’s plan for the Messiah revealed in the Old Testament through the prophecies. It is a great comfort to us in the midst of what may seem like chaos that all things took place to fulfill His plan.
Prayer–Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan