“Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet…” (Matthew 1:22)
The Gospel of Matthew gives a number of reasons to be thankful this Christmas as it reminds us that the events associated with Jesus’ birth fulfilled at least eighty Old Testament prophecies. The statement in our verse above is a phrase that Matthew used a number of times throughout his gospel as he pointed out to his readers that many of the events he described fulfilled very specific prophecies. Let’s take a brief look at some of these ancient proclamations referred to in the first chapters of Matthew and see why they give us reason to celebrate.
- As prophesied, the virgin Mary conceived and bore a son who was called Immanuel – God with us – a fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 (cf. Matthew 1:21-23).
- After His birth, wise men came from the East to offer their gifts to the new born King. Herod called the chief priests and scribes together and asked where the Messiah was going to be born. They responded by citing Micah 5:2 which named Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Christ (cf. Matthew 2:3-6).
- Herod’s response in killing the young boys of Bethlehem was a fulfilment of two more prophecies found in Jeremiah 31:15 and Hosea 11:1 (cf. Matthew 2:15-18).
- In the genealogy recorded in Matthew 1, we discover the fulfilment of several other Old Testament prophecies, such as Jesus being from the line of Abraham (Genesis 12:3), Isaac (Genesis 26:4), Jacob (Genesis 28:14), Judah (Genesis 49:8–12), Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), and David (Isaiah 9:7).
The Unique Saviour
Despite what many believe, the religions and religious leaders of the world cannot compare to Christ. He was not just another religious leader who lived a good life to make things better for others or was simply a good example for us on how to live. No! Jesus is unique in so many respects. He is the only person who ever lived who lived a perfectly sinless life – every other religious leader has been sinful and needed a Saviour. But Jesus did not need a saviour; He is the Saviour.
There are also no prophecies giving details about the birth of other religious leaders. Before Islam existed, there were no prophecies detailing the coming of Muhammad. The same with Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses – there were no prophecies concerning Joseph Smith or Charles Taze Russell. Even Siddhartha Gautama – the founder of Buddhism – arrived unannounced in the world. However, the Old Testament, proved to have been written centuries before Jesus came to earth, gives explicit details of Jesus’ coming and what He would do, which were all fulfilled at His birth, through His life, and at the cross.
So in the first two chapters of Matthew, we see that the one promised to the forefathers of the Jewish nation in various ways, who was foretold as being born of a virgin in a little town called Bethlehem, and that His coming would give rise to bitter agony as Herod sought His life – actually did come in the way foretold.
A Reason to Celebrate
This in itself gives reason to celebrate this Christmas, and not to celebrate as the world does either, but in a manner worthy of the one who came. Jesus is the reason and focus for the season.
This Christmas let it be a time not just of giving gifts to others, but a time of celebrating the ultimate gift that was given. Let it be a time of rejoicing in the fact that the promised Messiah came in the manner that was prophesied. Let it be a season of singing songs of praise and worship to the God who planned centuries earlier, the coming of the one who will take away the sins of those who live centuries later – you and me.
And if you are not a believer, I pray that this Christmas will become something greater than the commercial holiday that it is for many, and that you come to know Jesus as your own personal Saviour and Lord.
Just a Thought!
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