Who Is This Saviour? The Test for Joseph Mary agreed to God's plan and soon found herself with child. But, this was a sudden development for Joseph. He apparently wasn't sure whether to believe her or not. Finally, he decided to "put her away." In other words, he would break the engagement and distance himself from her to protect his reputation. "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily" (Matthew 1:18-19). Probably he wanted to believe her story, but found it just too impossible. Abraham and Zacharias also had difficulty with God's plans, but by faith decided to trust God and obey. God gave those men promises which helped them to believe. He does the same for Joseph. "But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21). The name "Jesus" means "Saviour." His name was Saviour and He would save us from sin. Here is another name: "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23). The prophet Isaiah penned those words over 700 years before Christ's birth. The name Emmanuel speaks of His dual nature as both God and Man united in one (more on this next lesson). In Matthew 1:18, the Bible also calls Him Jesus Christ. Christ means, "the anointed one" the one God chose to purchase humanity's salvation. Christ is His title and means the same thing as "Messiah." Joseph must now make a choice. To preserve his reputation he must separate himself from Mary as quickly as possible, because people will begin accusing her of immorality soon. Joseph chooses to obey God instead of looking out for himself. "Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS" (Matthew 1:24-25). Joseph and Mary trusted God and obeyed even though the situation did not look good for them personally. What faith they exercised when they chose God's plan over their own! Jesus Christ is Born About six months after Zacharias and Elizabeth named their newborn baby boy John (as mentioned in our last lesson), Joseph and Mary traveled from their hometown of Nazareth to Bethlehem. The Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus had decreed a tax across his entire empire. In Judea, the tax was handled by having people travel to their ancestors hometown to be counted and pay their share. Mary and Joseph were both descendents of King David, so they had to travel to Bethlehem, David's hometown. "And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:6-7)." Apparently, Bethlehem was crowded and busy with the taxation decree. Perhaps they arrived late, because Mary was so close to being due and could not travel well. At any rate, they apparently had to spend the night in a barn with the animals. That night, the Saviour of humanity was born. This incredible birth did not pass by unnoticed. "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:8-14). The shepherds headed into Bethlehem: "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them" (Luke 2:15-20). This was the first of many things Mary would learn about her son. Eight days after His birth, Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem to present Him in the Temple, fulfilling Old Testament law. Another Testimony To Jesus As they performed the required sacrifice and rituals in the Temple, an old man named Simeon approached them: "Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:28-35). This must have encouraged Mary and Joseph. Like the angels proclamation to the shepherds eight days earlier, this was a sign that they had chosen the right path by trusting God. A Sign From The East Apparently, Joseph and Mary took up residence in a home in Bethlehem for the first couple years of Jesus' life. It was in this home that the wise men found the young child. The wise men? Weren't they with Jesus at the manger? No, that is a common misunderstanding. These travelers from the far east (probably Babylon) had arrived in Jerusalem looking for the child who was born to be the King of Kings. Perhaps they assumed He would be born in the capitol. They met with the wicked Herod the Great who reigned as a puppet of the Roman empire. "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also" (Matthew 2:1-8). The chief priests and scribes referred to Micah 3:5 for the location of the coming Saviour's birth. But, apparently they had not been expecting or looking for it to happen. The wise men from the east, however, had seen a sign when it happened: a star. And so they set out to find Him. Notice that Herod asked them how long ago they had seen the star. This would figure into his nasty plans. But the wise men, seemingly oblivious to Herod's wickedness, headed toward Bethlehem. On the way, they saw the star again which directed them to the house where Joseph and Mary were caring for the toddler Jesus, as we read in Matthew 2:9-11. "When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh." Notice that the wise men came into the house, not a stable or manger. Also, see that they saw the "young child" for Jesus was probably a year old by now. Having presented their gifts and rejoiced they bedded down for the night. But no one would get much sleep that night. God was preparing to get them out of harm's way. The First Attack On the Promised Saviour As the wise men and the young Saviour's caregivers settled down for the night. God began to warn them that they must flee. The wise men fled first. "And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son" (Matthew 2:9-12). But Herod's wicked plan was already in motion. He discovered that the wise men weren't coming back to report exactly where the child lived. So, he ordered the murder of all children in the region from two years old and under. Apparently, he based this decision on when the wise men saw the star. Fortunately, Joseph and Mary had taken Jesus and fled to Egypt in fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 written nearly 800 years earlier. "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not" (Matthew 2:16-18). They stayed in Egypt for several years. Then, they returned to their hometown of Nazareth, where Jesus was raised. "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene" (Matthew 2:23). Only one incident is recorded of Jesus' childhood. He was left behind in Jerusalem at age twelve after a Passover feast. Upon returning to seek Him, they found Him teaching the Old Testament law to the priests in the Temple. Mary must have taken this strange occurrence as another sign, for Luke 2:51 says, "but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart." Otherwise, nothing is known of His childhood and early adulthood. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52). Jesus did not begin His public ministry until He was thirty years old. Just before Jesus began His ministry, an important messenger a few months older than Him, had also grown up. And it was his job to prepare the way for Christ.

Lesson#10 Review

1.Why would Joseph have hesitated to marry Mary?

2.What do Jesusí names say about who He is?

3.How did Joseph trust God?

4.How does Jesusí birthplace contrast with who He is?

5What did Mary learn about Jesusí mission from Simeon?

6.How was Satan behind Herodís murderous plan?

7.How would Mary have a child while remaining a virgin?

8.Why was it important that God, and not a human, father the child?