The Promised One Comes

Bible Focus: Matthew 1-2

The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18 CSB

In our current world, we often see people miss their commitments, shirk their responsibilities, and break their promises. Such occurrences create disappointment and frustration for us. However, if we can demonstrate that we are reliable, then we have an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Whenever we follow through on a promise we’ve made–even if it’s just a small thing–we always brighten someone’s day and cause them to trust us a little more.

If we continue to fulfill our promises to others, they’ll gain more confidence in our integrity. As we show ourselves faithful to them in the small things, they’ll eventually trust us with bigger things. And if we keep our word to them in the short-term, they’ll eventually trust us over the long haul, even through hardship and delays. If they believe in us, they will keep waiting for us to come through for them in the end.

In a similar but more perfect way, God’s past faithfulness shows he will fulfill his promises. Throughout the Old Testament, God invited sinful people to repent of their sin, believe in God, and experience the blessings of a renewed relationship with him. God also kept promising to send a special servant-king who would save all of God’s people forever. Even so, countless Old Testament believers lived and died without ever seeing God’s promised One. But one day, the wait was over. At just the right time, God sent his promised One to earth.

God’s past faithfulness shows he will always fulfill his promises.

After the Persians conquered Babylon, many exiled Jews returned to Judea and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem. During that time, God spoke to the Jewish people through prophets such as Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. After these prophets had delivered their messages, about four hundred years went by. Judea was ruled by the Persians, then by the Greeks, then by the Jews themselves, and finally by the Romans. Rome appointed a ruthless man named Herod to be king over the Jews.

During King Herod’s rule, a Jewish man named Joseph grew up in the area of Galilee. Joseph was a descendant of King David, and he became engaged to a woman named Mary. One day he found out that Mary was pregnant. Joseph hadn’t had sex with her, so he knew her baby wasn’t his. Joseph thought about breaking off their marriage as quietly as possible. That’s when God sent a messenger to tell Joseph who Mary’s baby actually was.

But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
   Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated "God is with us."
Matthew 1:20-23 CSB

So Joseph married Mary and he traveled with her to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Joseph and his new family stayed in Bethlehem for a while. One day, some mysterious travelers showed up in Jerusalem, asking about the birth of a new king.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him."
   When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born. "In Bethlehem of Judea," they told him, "because this is what was written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah: Because out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel."
Matthew 2:1-6 CSB

King Herod instructed the wise men to visit Bethlehem and then bring him more information about the new king. After listening to Herod, the wise men followed the star to the home of Joseph and Mary. The wise men worshipped Jesus and gave him valuable gifts. But they were warned in a dream to stay away from Herod, so they returned home by another way.

After the wise men left, Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt because Herod would try to kill Jesus. Joseph got up and left with his family in the middle of the night. When Herod found out that the wise men weren’t coming back, he ordered the killing of all boys in the Bethlehem area who were age two or younger. By that time, Joseph’s family had escaped, and they stayed in Egypt until Herod died.

Here’s the good news: God’s promises can never be thwarted by anyone. God always tells the truth, God completely sees the future, and God has the ultimate power to make his promises come true. God said that he would send his promised One, so no one could stop Jesus from coming. God said that Jesus would save his people from their sins, so no one can stop him from saving them. If we have believed in Jesus, then we will be saved by him. It doesn’t matter if we can’t see our full salvation yet. God always keeps his promises.

Featured image from Tim Bogdanov on Unsplash.

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