A King Who Saves (Dec. 26)

Dec 26, 2021

A King Who Saves (Dec. 26)

Passage: Matthew 1:18-25

Preacher: Jeff Crotts

Series: Stand Alone Sermons

Category: Sunday Morning


Matthew 1:18-25 – A King Who Saves

It is no an understatement to say, people are searching for a cause to latch onto. 

  • Just look around.
  • Being a revolutionary is suddenly in vogue.
  • Protesting is in.
  • People want to make a statement.

The instinct to connect your life with a purpose or identify with a mission is actually part of being human.  Being made in God’s image.

  • To right wrongs.

This being the case, it has never been more important to be clear on the Christian’s mission. 

  • Solving society’s ills has never been the Christian’s mission.
  • In fact, you do not have to be spiritually-minded to address temporal problems.
    • Naturally-minded people do this all the time.
    • There has been a resurgence within the church to solve societal ills.


  • The danger is to shape or mold Jesus (as if that were possible) into a hero for a temporal change, when in fact Jesus’ mission was never meant to establish temporal change.

Toward the end of Matthew’s gospel will tell how the Jews misconstrue Jesus’ coming as a revolutionary to overthrow Rome. 

  • A perversion of Jesus’ power.
  • Jesus’ first coming was as a Lamb, not Lion.
  • A Servant not Judge.

The trend today is to say, “If you do not take up social causes, you are denying the gospel itself.” 

  • Liberal churches by the ’60s stripped Jesus and his mission down to being a “do-gooder!”
  • This influenced Christology.
  • Jeopardizing the virgin birth lauding anti-supernaturalism.
  • This became necessary to recast Jesus as the perfect human “do-gooder.”

No virgin birth means he is not really God.  Not really God means a safer and achievable mission.  A temporal mission.   

Certainly, God is compassionate to people in need.  The whole book of James speaks to “doing” works of compassion. 

ESV  James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: ato visit borphans and widows in their affliction, and cto keep oneself dunstained from the world.

ESV  James 2:1 My brothers,1 ashow no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, bthe Lord of glory.

ESV  James 2:8-10 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, a"You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. 9 But if you ashow partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point ahas become accountable for all of it.


ESV  James 2:15-16 aIf a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 aand one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good1 is that?


  • Still, these exhortations must be read in view of a greater mission.

ESV  James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith abut does not have works? Can that faith save him?

ESV  James 2:17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

  • The question is not whether or not you are a “do-gooder” but whether or not your faith is truly alive!

Admittedly, Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. 

  • He brought relief to a sin-cursed world.
  • Jesus brought a foretaste of the kingdom but provided temporal healing, reset people’s lives on earth.

Still, this was not Jesus’ overall mission. 

  • Temporal relief was a by-product of Christ’s aim.
  • Jesus was not graded by how many he healed or by how many he left unhealed.

Bringing temporal relief should not be our chief aim. 

  • More than ever, the church must refocus itself on Jesus’ mission.
  • Why this King came to earth.

Matthew does not mince words about Jesus’ Mission.

  • An angel of the Lord lays out Christ’s mission to Joseph in verse 21.

ESV  Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and ayou shall call his name Jesus, bfor he will save his people from their sins."

Question: “What is our King’s mission?”  To “save his people from their sins” (v. 21).

  • Liberal theology – ignores the plain Scriptural teaching about Jesus’ supernatural birth.
    • Bad theology obscures (clouds) Christ’s true mission.
    • Christ’s true mission – addressing and dealing with sin.


  • If you do not want to deal with sin then you have to change the mission.


  • This starts with changing Jesus.


  • His mission and our mission will follow.


Why Jesus’ virgin birth qualifies Jesus to save people from their sins
1. Jesus is Eternal (v. 18)

The immediate context tells us this narrative comes through the eyes of Joseph. 

  • Luke’s account tells the story through Mary’s experience and Matthew’s account through Joseph’s experience.


  • Matthew 1:16 is the link, “Jacob the father of Joseph [who is] the husband of Mary…” (v. 16).

We know very little about Joseph. 

  • Certainly he was a craftsman (tekton) and carpenter by trade (cf. Mt. 13:55).
  • He was a “righteous man” (v. 19) meaning an Old Testament believer.
  • It is no accident Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus - 2,000 years of history built for Joseph, a “son of David,” to play this role.

 “Why highlight Joseph?” 

  • Less to exalt him and more to contrast him with his Jesus’ heavenly Father.
  • Joseph was there to adopt Jesus connecting the earthly line to “David,” but this is no real comparison to Christ’s connection to his heavenly Father.

Verse 18, makes a connection that supersedes the genealogy of verses 1-17. 

  • Matthew 1:1 uses the same word “genealogy” for “birth” that verse 18 uses - [genesis] both meaning “origin.”


  • Matthew shows a disparity between origins answering: “Where does this King truly originate?”

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way” (v. 18). 

  • Every child born into the world is a totally brand new creature.


  • Jesus Christ is different and unique being eternal God (Jn. 1:1, 14).
    • Jesus existed before Mary and Joseph or any of His earthly ancestors listed above.
    • If Jesus was conceived as any other baby “begat” “begat” then He could not be God.


  • Jesus would one day say, “Before Abraham was, I am…” (Jn. 8:58).

Joseph’s narration highlights Joseph’s struggle and need to accept Jesus’ supernatural birth. 

  • Joseph needed to let go of a normal path to fatherhood and adopt Jesus as his son while at the same time accept Jesus as his personal Savior.
    • Dreams were dashed.
    • His faith challenged.


  • We relate to Joseph more than we do Mary.
    • Like Joseph, we are on the same journey to be convinced over who Jesus truly is!
    • Matthew invites you to join Joseph’s journey.


  • We embrace Jesus’ supernatural origin completely by faith.

Joseph and Mary “had been betrothed” (v. 18). 

  • In Jewish custom/law, this was more than engagement.
    • Two were legally ratified to each other.
    • A young man, a few years older (older teens), would legally pledge himself to a young lady before witnesses.


  • Two stages, (Kiddushin, Huppah).
    • A contract and dowry involved.
    • A price paid by the groom to the father’s bride?


  • One year of probation and testing for purity.
  • Still, considered husband and wife, though not living together and without physical union.
  • Still, separation required divorce.

The divinity of the Messiah hung on their testimony of faithfulness, “before they came together” (v. 18). 

  • Jesus was supernaturally conceived “from the Holy Spirit” (v. 18).
  • Matthew’s clear emphasis for is on the miraculous conception of Christ in Mary’s womb, “from the Holy Spirit” (v. 18; cf. v. 20).

More than we can understand: “We may safely rest in the words of the Apostle’s Creed: “Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary.” [Ryle]

 2. Jesus is Holy (v. 19)

The words “Holy Spirit” [pveumatos agiou] repeated in verse 20 make clear that Jesus’ conception was holy. 

  • Not strictly in terms of the action of conception but in the origin of conception.
  • Had Mary conceived by Joseph, Jesus’ would have been born a sinner like you and me.
  • Sin passes down between two sinners.

ESV  Psalm 51:5 Behold, aI was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

  • Even from a legal standpoint, had Joseph been the biological father, Jesus would have come through the lineage of cursed kings (i.e. “Jechoniah” cf. 1:11-12; Jer. 22:24,30).
  • Jesus’ virgin birth exempts him from every sin-cursed effect.
  • He comes to this world from outside of this fallen world.

The key was for Joseph to see this, to be convinced of this. 

  • Understanding the sinlessness of Christ Jesus is of paramount importance for having the true Christ.
    • Christ is holy not because he “does” or “did” more “good” than “bad.”
    • Jesus did not become holy because he did or did not do things.


  • He was and is holy because he was and is holy, period. Jesus righteousness was overflowing from his nature. 


  • As believers, we too, do not make ourselves holy by “do-gooding.”


We are made holy by God making us holy, declaring us to be so! 

  • The Holy Spirit came from heaven to conceive Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes from outside of this sin cursed world to enter your life.
  • We are “perfect” as our “heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

Joseph had been made “perfect” (v. 19). 

  • Joseph was a believer, “a just man” [dikaios].
    • This had two applications.
    • First, Joseph revered the Law and second he had compassion.

“There are many who are righteous and not kind and kind but not righteous and Joseph was both” [Ligon Duncan] 

  • Joseph knew and respected the Law, God’s Word.

ESV  Deuteronomy 22:23-24 "If there is a abetrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. aSo you shall purge the evil from your midst.

  • The passage does not layout the scenario that Joseph presumed for Mary.
  • Whether he perceived her to be unfaithful or not.
  • I am not certain the potential of the death penalty for Mary was the issue.

Joseph had “resolved” [eBoulnthn] to “divorce” or “release” her “quietly” (v. 19). 

  • Joseph was willing to absorb the shame and guilt.
  • To leave this matter unexplained and himself responsible.

“When God chose a human father for his Son, he chose a man who would be righteous and kind, qualities that reflect God the Father himself” [Ligon Duncan]. 

Still, Joseph’s nobility and noble response is not the point. 

  • God was taking Joseph down a path of discovery.
  • Joseph needed to see Jesus Christ with clarity and this would take God’s intervention.   


 3. Jesus is Savior (vv. 20-21)

Verse 20 shows Joseph as someone who “considered these things” (v. 20), thinking through how he would proceed to keep Mary from shame. 

  • Joseph was meditating on God’s Word.


As Matthew Henry said, “The Lord gives guidance to the thoughtful, not to the unthinking.” 


  • It is here that more revelation brought greater clarity.
  • There are five revelatory dreams in Matthew (v. 20; 2:12, 13, 19, 22).
  • This revelation from “an angel of the Lord” meaning this is God’s Word to Joseph.
  • God’s Word does not contradict God’s Word and this is not contradiction to Deuteronomy 22.
  • This is progressive revelation how the New Testament shines on and clarifies our applications from the Old Testament.

For Joseph, examples like Sarah’s barren womb miraculously opened for the birth of Isaac and Manoah’s barren wife opened to give birth to Samson still gave no direct precedent for Joseph. 

  • “…for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (v. 20).
  • “Begat” by the Holy Spirit.
  • This miracle conception was completely outside of natural means and would mean Joseph would have to completely embrace this reality by faith!

The angel reassured Joseph there was no contradiction here.  All was appropriate. 


Joseph as the right man for the job, “Joseph, son of David” (v. 20).  From David’s lineage. 

  • Joseph was not famous. Not a public official nor from nobility.
  • Yet the angel says, “Joseph, remember who you are. You are the son of David.” 
  • You are part of this plan and consequently you have nothing to “fear” (v. 20).
    • Not legally since no law had been violated!
    • Mary is with child by a miracle and this is all part of God’s perfect plan.

The plan was for this King to save! 

  • Salvation that is far deeper than political overthrow.
  • Salvation is from “sins” (v. 21).

The phrase “She will bear a son” (v. 21) is the direct link to Jesus’ humanity.

  • The “son” had to be a fully human Savior.

ESV  Galatians 4:4 But awhen the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, bborn cof woman, born dunder the law

One predicted all the way back in Genesis 3:15.

ESV  Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring1 and aher offspring; bhe shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

  • Mary’s “offspring” or “seed” was meant to crush the serpent’s head.
  • Enmity because of sin, salvation because of Jesus.

The name “Jesus” from the Hebrew word translated Joshua [Yeshua – Old Testament: Yahweh will save] - represents Jesus’ mission which is to save. 

“He saves from the guilt of sin…washing with atoning blood…from dominion of sin…putting in hearts the sanctifying Spirit…from the presence of sin…taking out of the world to rest with Him…from the consequences of sin…giving a glorious body on the last day” [Ryle]. 

  • Salvation first offered to “his people” the Jews and then broadens to the whole world (cf. Mt. 28:19 “all nations”).

Jesus’ humanity was essential so he could die, absorbing the penalty and punishment for our sins.  Still, for this sacrificial payment to be eternal would mean this Savior had to likewise be God.

4. Jesus is God (vv. 22-25)

Joseph would make the connection of who this Savior truly was by grounding his miracle birth within the prophecy spoken by Isaiah 700 years before Jesus’ birth. 

  • Matthew repeatedly uses this phrase, “…to fulfill” indicating ways Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.
  • The scene in Isaiah 7 is the reign of King Ahaz in Judah.
    • The son of the great Uzziah was wicked.
      • He filled Jerusalem with idols and worship of Molech.
      • These sins threatened his kingdom and right to rule.


  • Foreign, enemy kings (Aram and Pekah) threatened to depose him but Isaiah’s prophecy affirmed that no wicked kind would destroy God’s royal line.


  • That from Israel a “sign” would come.

ESV  Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the aLord himself will give you a sign. bBehold, the cvirgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name dImmanuel.1


  • The word “virgin” [alma] in Hebrew could mean “Maiden” or an unmarried woman.
  • Matthew uses the Greek word “Parthenos” (translated from the LXX) which emphatically means virgin.

This prophecy is fulfilled in Christ’s miracle birth!  Nothing can stop God’s plan.

The name “Immanuel” is more of a title. 

  • The common name for the Son of God is Jesus.
  • His office is “Christ” as promised King and his nature is here described as “Immanuel” which means he is God!


  • Jesus is present and Jesus is God. “God with us” (v. 23). 


  • Jesus is God, our Savior, meaning he can take away our sins.

However, Jesus does not leave things there. 

  • Jesus’ not only cleanses you he stays with you!


  • We are called to go with Jesus on his mission.

ESV  Matthew 28:19-20 aGo therefore and bmake disciples of call nations, abaptizing them fin1 dthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them ato observe all that bI have commanded you. And behold, cI am with you always, to dthe end of the age."


“How did Joseph do?”  “Was Joseph convinced of Jesus’ supernatural birth?” 

“Yes, because actions always speak louder than words.” 


ESV  Matthew 1:24-25 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And ahe called his name Jesus.


Jesus is so much more than a sentimental symbol for “do-gooding.” 

Jesus did not come to solve the temporal but the eternal. 

He is the Savior of man’s deepest problem.  Sin! 


“…for he will save his people from their sins” (v. 21).  


This first chapter of Matthew makes the point that Jesus is a One of a kind King. 

And, it is exactly because Jesus is One of a kind that He is the Savior. 

No other person can fulfill our deepest need. 

No other King is qualified to do what our King can do. 


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