December 22

Matthew 1:22-25

“All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, “God is with us.”’” vs. 22-23

Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 in his story of Jesus’ birth has had enormous significance in the elevation of Mary to almost divine status in the development of Christian thought. Some see her as the Queen of Heaven and know her as the Mother of God. Nearly all call her the Virgin Mary and some regularly pray for her to intercede with Jesus on their behalf. Belief in the virgin birth has been regarded as a requirement for salvation and those expressing doubts can be labelled as infidels. Sadly, such debates and arguments about Mary’s virginity have been an enormous distraction for the Church through the years. For many they’ve actually been a stumbling block for faith. For Matthew the most important word in the verse is not “virgin,” but “Immanuel.” He wants his readers to know that in Jesus they can know God, that in him God becomes present to all of humanity. Instead of fighting about whether or not Mary was a virgin, it’s far more productive to simply honor her as the mother of the one in whom God has become known. She and Joseph were faithful in their obedience to God and in their household Jesus became the Messiah of God–and really, that’s all we need to know!

Thought for the Day: Why was a virgin birth considered more holy?

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