Vigil of Christmas (December 24): "He will save his people from their sins"
Scripture: Matthew 1:1-25 (alternate readings for Christmas: Luke 2:1-14; Luke 2:15-20; John 1:1-5,9-14)
Genealogy of Jesus: 1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Ammin'adab, and Ammin'adab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Bo'az by Rahab, and Bo'az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uri'ah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehobo'am, and Rehobo'am the father of Abi'jah, and Abi'jah the father of Asa, 8 and Asa the father of Jehosh'aphat, and Jehosh'aphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzzi'ah, 9 and Uzzi'ah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezeki'ah, 10 and Hezeki'ah the father of Manas'seh, and Manas'seh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josi'ah, 11 and Josi'ah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoni'ah was the father of She-al'ti-el, and She-al'ti-el the father of Zerub'babel, 13 and Zerub'babel the father of Abi'ud, and Abi'ud the father of Eli'akim, and Eli'akim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eli'ud, 15 and Eli'ud the father of Elea'zar, and Elea'zar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5
Birth of Jesus: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.
1 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her vindication goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. 2 The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will give. 3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My delight is in her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. 5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.Meditation: How well do you know your spiritual heritage? Genealogies are very important. They give us our roots and help us to understand our heritage. Matthew's genealogy of Jesus traces his lineage from Abraham, the father of God's chosen people, through the line of David, King of Israel, to "Joseph, the son of David" (Matthew 1:20), to Jesus who was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. Jesus the Messiah is the direct descendant of Abraham and David, and the rightful heir to David's throne.
In the coming of Jesus, we see the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham and to David that he would send a Savior whom he would anoint as king and savior who would rule forever. When Jacob, the great-grandson of Abraham, blessed his twelve sons, he foretold that Judah would receive the promise of royalty which we see fulfilled when David, a descendant of Judah, was chosen as the anointed King for Israel (Genesis 49:10). We can see in Jacob's blessing and in the promise made to David a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah and Ruler whom the Father would send to save his people from sin, Satan, and death.The Lord Jesus came not only to restore Israel but to save the nations. Do you recognize the Lord Jesus as the fulfillment of all God's promises?
When Israel and the House of David rebelled and turned away from God, God described his people as a deserted and forsaken wife (Isaiah62:4). God, however did not abandon nor forget his people. The prophet Isaiah foretold a time of deliverance when the Messiah would come to his people as their Bridegroom who would delight in restoring and uniting them as his Bride (Isaiah 61:10, Revelations 21:2). This work of restoration would extend to all the nations as well. We begin to see the fulfillment of that prophecy when the angel announced the coming of the Messiah first to the virgin Mary and then later to her espoused husband, Joseph (Matthew 1:18-23).
When Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah she had to face an enormous challenge to her faith and trust in God, and to the faith of her family, as well as the faith of Joseph, the man she had chosen to marry. She was asked to assume a burden of tremendous responsibility. It had never been heard of before that a child could be born without a natural father. Mary was asked to accept this miraculous exception to the laws of nature.That required faith and trust in God and in his promises. Second, Mary was not yet married. Pregnancy outside of wedlock was not tolerated in those days. Mary was only espoused to Joseph, and such an engagement had to last for a whole year. She was asked to assume a great risk. She could have been rejected by Joseph, by her family, by all her own people. Mary knew that Joseph and her family would not understand without revelation from God. She nonetheless believed and trusted in God's promises.
Joseph, a just and God-fearing man, did not wish to embarrass or punish his espoused wife, Mary, when he discovered that she was pregnant. To all appearances she had broken their solemn pledge to be faithful and chaste to one another. Joseph, no doubt took this troubling matter to God in prayer. He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt and anger. God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation, but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence, and trust in Almighty God. Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah. Like Mary, Joseph is a model of faith for us. He is a faithful witness and servant of God's unfolding plan of redemption. Are you ready to believe in the promises of God, even when faced with perplexing circumstances and what seems like insurmountable problems? God has not left us alone, but has brought us his only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation (when "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us... the only-begotten Son from the Father" John 1:14), with joyful hearts, and let us renew our faith and hope in God, and give thanks for his work of redemption.
"Lord Jesus, you came to set us free from the power of sin, death, and Satan. You give us the hope of abundant life and joy with you forever. May I always rejoice in your saving work and trust in your plan for my life".
Psalm 89:2-5, 15-16, 27, 29
2 For your steadfast love was established for ever, your faithfulness
is firm as the heavens.
3 You have said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant:
4 `I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations.'" [Selah]
5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your countenance,
16 who exult in your name all the day, and extol your righteousness.
27 And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My steadfast love I will keep for him for ever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.
29 I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of the heavens.