All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22-23
It was unusual and miraculous enough that Mary had claimed God had placed a child within her. Then, that Joseph would be visited by an angel. Then, what the mission of Jesus’ life would be: that He would save people from their sins. Now, the angel tells Joseph one of the ‘background reasons’ why all this was happening.
Because Jesus would fulfill Old Testament prophecy. According to my Concordia, this is the first of twelve times (in his book) that Matthew would tell how Jesus fulfilled prophecy. It’s also the first of 47 times when Matthew quoted the Old Testament which he, as a Jew, would have been formally trained to memorize and know (even if he, as a former tax collector, had long ago abandoned it).
The Jews of Jesus’ time lived and died by the words of the Old Testament. It was their law; it was the only ‘bible’ they had (because that word wasn’t in use yet). It recorded all the ways Yahweh had revealed Himself throughout history (and no new revelations had come in centuries). The Isaiah reference that Matthew uses was first used in the time of King Ahaz. It was said (then) to reference a miracle of deliverance; a comment on how God performs miracles even when our faith is weak.
And then came Jesus. And then came how Jesus fulfilled what was so much more than just an ancient commentary. It turned out to be a prediction, a prophecy of what would actually happen. It wasn’t the last time this would happen in or through Jesus’ life. In fact, it was the first of hundreds of prophecies that were fulfilled only in Jesus of Nazareth.
Now think about what His name means, how God’s miracle would result in “God with us.” Not just a name, even though God’s name is to be revered. God would present Himself to us in a way to which we could relate: as a baby. As a baby whose family history took him all the way back to the honored patriarchs. As a child of royal lineage. As a child born under extraordinary circumstances. As a commoner; unknown to His fellow men. As just another man. God was with us. God would be with us. God is still with us in the persons of the Father, Jesus the Son, and their Spirit, who works through our lives.
All explained in this dream given to Joseph.
How do you think Joseph would have reacted to all this unusual news? How would you or I react?
For more reading: Isaiah 7:14, Luke 4:21, Luke 24:44, John 13:18, John 19:24, Matthew 1:24
Lord God, all praise to You for how Your Son fulfilled the prophecies You gave us. All thanks and praise.