December 23: Jesus Christ, Son of David, Savior, Immanuel

23 December Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ, Son of David, Savior, Immanuel

Advent reading for December 23: Matthew 1

The opening chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew is another example of the New Testament writers recognizing that the ancient prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. (See Advent Reading for December 22.)

Matthew opens the New Testament with these words: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Immediately he traces Jesus’ descent from Abraham through the royal line of Judah via “David the King.” Abraham is mentioned three times (1:1, 2, 17), but the emphasis is on David who is mentioned six times in four verses (1:1, 6, 17, 20), the second time as “David the king” (1:6). 


In the genealogy, Matthew uses the phrase “the father of” 39 times: “Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of…” etc. When he gets to Joseph, the pattern changes. Joseph is not said to be the father of Jesus, but rather “the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is call Christ” (1:16).

Picking up the story in verse 18, Matthew clearly states that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. Joseph and Mary were betrothed, a legal status as binding as marriage, but they had not yet “come together” for the actual marriage had not yet occurred. When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant, knowing that he had not been with her, he naturally assumed that she had been with another man and decided to divorce her privately. 

As Joseph considered his plan, God intervened. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and addressed him as “Joseph, son of David,” reminding him of “his legal ancestry by which he was the legitimate successor to the throne of David.” 1 The angel relieves his fears about Mary. She was still a virgin: “that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (1:20).


“She will bear a son,” the angel instructs him, “and you shall call his name Jesus.” The naming of the child was a legal act of adoption. By virtue of this adoption, Jesus is like Joseph “a legitimate successor to the throne of David.” 2 As the angel addressed Joseph as “son of David,” Jesus would be called “the Son of David” (eight more times in this Gospel) fulfilling the promise that God had made to David (2 Samuel 7:12-13). While both Joseph and Jesus were legitimate successors to the throne, Jesus alone was the promised Messiah, the Christ (1:1, 16, 17, 18; 2:4; etc.).


Thus, this child, conceived in Mary, from the Holy Spirit, would bear the name “Jesus” from the Hebrew Yeshua, or Joshua, meaning “Yahweh saves.” “God to the rescue!” 3 “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (1:21). 


While Luke tells the story of the birth of Jesus from Mary’s perspective. Matthew focuses on Joseph. Mary was submissive (Luke 1:36); Joseph was obedient:

Matthew 1:24–25 (ESV)  —  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 given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him:

  1. He took his wife. 
  2. He did not have relations with her until she had given birth. This implies that he did have normal conjugal relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus. His brothers are frequently mentioned (Mat 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5; Gal. 1:19). 
  3. He called his name Jesus.


Jesus is no mere teacher, no guru, no Muhammad or Gandhi. He is ‘God with us’.

— Michael Green

Matthew specifically states that this virgin conception was a fulfillment of the prophecy given by Isaiah 7:14,

Matthew 1:22–23 (ESV)  —  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Immanuel: God with us. This is not us making our own way to God. No, God made his way to us. Jesus is God with us. 

Jesus is no mere teacher, no guru, no Muhammad or Gandhi. He is ‘God with us’. That is the essential claim on which Christianity is built. It is a claim that cannot be abandoned without abandoning the faith in its entirety. 4

God with us. “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

1 Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 53.

2 Ibid.

3 Michael Green, The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 60.

4 Michael Green, 59–60.

December 22: Son of the Most High

22 Son of the Most High

December 22

Son of the Most High

Advent reading: Luke 1:5-38

From the opening chapters of Genesis, the Old Testament looks forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior. The New Testament, from the opening chapters of the Gospels, looks back to demonstrate that the promise has been fulfilled.

Luke begins with the angel Gabriel’s announcement that Zechariah and Elizabeth will have a son, and they shall call his name John. He announces that John will go before the Lord “in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children… to make ready for the Lord a people prepared”(Luke 1:16-17). These beginning verses of Luke’s Gospel link to the last verses of the Old Testament where the LORD announced, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers…” (Malachi 4:5-6).

Six months later in the same chapter of Luke, God sends Gabriel to Nazareth “to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (Luke 1:26). That one sentence points to the fulfillment of God’s promise to David a thousand years before (2 Samuel 7:1-17) and to Isaiah’s prophecy 700 years before that a virgin would conceive (Isaiah 7:14).

The virgin Mary is told that she will conceive and bear a son, and call his name Jesus (Luke 1:31). Gabriel spoke of 

  • His deity: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High,” the Son of God.
  • His royalty: “The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David” (1:32).
  • His eternal reign and kingdom: “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of this kingdom there will be no end” (1:33).

Mary wonders how this will be since she is a virgin. The angel explains that this will be a creative act of the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The result is given: “therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (1:35). That is how the Son of God would come into the world: through the virgin birth.

“How will this be, since I am a virgin?” That which seems impossible will happen “for nothing will be impossible with God” (1:37).

Salvation, like the virgin conception and birth, is impossible for man, but the impossible is possible with God. Mary’s response must be our response to the Good News of Jesus Christ: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (1:38). We cannot save ourselves, but we can say,  “Let it be to me according to your word.” “I am yours; save me!” (Psalm 119:94).

December 21: The Lord and His Prophet

The Lord and His Prophet

The Lord and His Prophet

Advent reading for December 21: Malachi 3:1-4; 4:1-6

Prophets don’t have prophets who announce their coming. We read the calls of certain prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah, but nowhere do we read that the prophets had other prophets preparing the way for their coming.

In Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, the LORD speaks of two messengers who would come. 

Malachi 3:1 (ESV) — Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

The previous verse (Malachi 2:17) indicates that the LORD is speaking, so the first messenger would prepare the way before the Lord, the messenger of the covenant.

Jesus quotes Malachi to indicate that John the Baptist was the first messenger who prepared the way for Christ, the messenger of the covenant:

Luke 7:26–28 (ESV) — What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John…

“By citing Malachi, Jesus… has shown in what way John the Baptist is greater than a prophet: he is greater in that he alone of all the prophets was the forerunner who prepared the way for Yahweh-Jesus and personally pointed him out.”1

The prophets did not have prophets preparing the way before them. Only the LORD has prophets. Yes, Jesus the LORD had a prophet, John the Baptist, the greatest of all the prophets. John prepared the way for the One who was infinitely greater than himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 307.

December 20: King on a Donkey, Bringing Salvation

King on a donkey

King on a Donkey, Bringing Salvation

Advent reading for December 20: Zechariah 9:9-10; 12:10-13:1

God continues to reveal details about the identity and mission of the Offspring that he promised to Eve (Genesis 3:15). The two themes of the Messiah’s suffering and future reign continue to be developed through the Old Testament. Zechariah, one of the last prophets of the Old Testament, gives us one of the better known verses quoted in the Gospel according to Matthew. On Palm Sunday, the Sunday before his crucifixion, Jesus sent two disciples into the village of Bethphage to bring him a donkey.

Matthew 21:4–5 (ESV) — This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”

Some 500 years before the birth of Jesus, Zechariah had prophecied,

Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) — Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

In this prophecy, Zechariah tells us several things about the coming Christ. First Christ the Messiah is our king: “Behold, your king is coming to you.” He is the one who was “born king” though his “kingdom is not of this world” (Matthew 2:2; John 18:36).

Second he is righteous. Time and again the Old Testament calls for the people of God to live righteous lives. The coming Messiah would be known and identified for his perfect righteousness (Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:4-6; 16:5; 32:1).1

Third, he would bring salvation. He would be called “Jesus” for he would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Fourth, he would show himself to be “humble” or “lowly.”2 Jesus invited us to learn from him, “for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). “He humbled himself” (Philippians 2:8).

Finally, he would come to his people “mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” He came not on a war horse, but as the One who would be our peace. “He himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Zechariah takes us another step in showing how the coming Messiah would bring salvation. The LORD speaks of a time when the house of David will mourn as one mourns for an only child, a firstborn:

Zechariah 12:10 (ESV) —…when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced…

The Jewish scholars did not understand how the LORD could be pierced, but John tells us, “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water…these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled…: ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced.’”

Zechariah tells us,

Zechariah 13:1 (ESV) — On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

Yes, this Word made flesh, this humble King was pierced for our transgressions. His blood was shed that we might be cleansed from our sins and uncleanness.


1 George L. Klein, Zechariah, vol. 21B, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 271.

2  Klein, 273.

December 19: The Son of Man, Human or Divine?

Son of Man

December 19

The Son of Man, Human or Divine?

Advent reading: Daniel 7:9-14

In considering many of the prophecies of the coming of Christ, we have seen recurrent themes of his sufferings (such as Isaiah 53) and his glorious reign (for example Jeremiah 23 and 33). The Apostle Peter wrote of these prophecies which pointed to “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Peter 1:11).

In the Book of Daniel, we find a most important vision referring to Christ’s favorite title, “The Son of Man.” Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man 82 times in the Gospels. But what does he mean by this title?

It is often assumed that the title Son of God refers to Christ’s deity while the title Son of Man refers to his humanity. In fact, the title Son of Man refers to the incarnation of the One who was made flesh (John 1:14). It refers to Christ’s authority (Mark 2:10-11, 28), his earthly mission (Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 8:31; 9:31; Luke 9:22), and future reign (Matthew 26:64). It refers to the One who was human and divine, fully God and fully man.

The last time Jesus uses the title “the Son of Man” is when he was brought before the Sanhedrin the night before his crucifixion, the high priest commanded him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Matthew 26:64 (ESV) — Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Jesus explicitly claimed to be the Son of Man who is seated at the right hand of God and will come on the clouds of heaven. In answering the high priest, Jesus quoted from Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man:

Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV) — “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Nearly 600 years before the birth of Christ, it was revealed to Daniel that one was coming “one like a son of man” who would be “given dominion and glory and a kingdom.” “All peoples, nations, and languages” will serve him. All other kingdoms would pass away, but of his everlasting kingdom “there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:33). 

While we face uncertain days, but Daniel’s vision assures us that we will reign with Christ.

Daniel 7:18 (ESV) — But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

The time will come for us to possess the kingdom (Daniel 7:22).

Daniel 7:27 (ESV) — And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’

We will rule and reign with the Son of Man who is fully human and fully divine.

December 16: The Suffering Servant, Born to Die

Born to Die 001

December 16

The Suffering Servant, Born to Die

Advent reading: Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

Isaiah 53 is one of the most remarkable chapters in the Bible, sometimes called “the forbidden chapter” because it is avoided by Jewish rabbis. Many Jews, reading it for the first time, have come to faith in the Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.

This passage has inspired hymns such as “The Healer” (“He was wounded for our transgressions…”) and “Hallelujah, What a Savior!”

If there is any doubt that Isaiah was referring to the coming Messiah, Jesus makes it clear. The night before his crucifixion, quoting from Isaiah 53:12, Jesus himself declares that he was born to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy:

Luke 22:37 (ESV)  —  For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

As we celebrate Christmas, we must not forget that the baby in the manger was born to die. He would be God’s Suffering Servant.

This passage actually begins in chapter 52, verse 13. God calls us to fix our eyes on Jesus: 

Isaiah 52:13 (ESV)  —  Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.


Christ would be “high and lifted up” on the cross, and after the resurrection he would be exalted to the right hand of God (John 12:32-33; Philippians 2:8-11).

Yet on the cross, his appearance would be astonishing:

Isaiah 52:14 (ESV)  —  As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—

What is this? A crucified Christ? What a contradiction of terms! How could he be the Christ, the anointed one, and yet be cursed by God for “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23). Surely he is “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).


Yes, it is true. Christ Jesus was smitten by God. “It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief” (53:10). 

But why? “He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (53:9). He is “the righteous one, my Servant” (v. 11). Why did God smite his Servant, his Son? Why did the LORD want to crush him? Why did he put him to grief?

The LORD makes it clear that his righteous Servant bore the punishment for our sins. He was numbered with the transgressors; he was numbered with us (v. 12). “The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (v. 6). He bore the sin of many (v. 12). He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities (v. 5). He was punished for our transgressions (v. 8). His soul was an offering for sin (v. 10). As the Apostle Paul puts it,

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)  —  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


The lamb or goat that is sacrificed as an offering for sin, that victim dies never to live again. But God’s Servant “will see the light of life and be satisfied” (v. 11, NIV). He lives again and is satisfied because “by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many.” Through our knowledge of the Suffering Servant who died for our sins, we become part of the portion that is given to him.

Let us contemplate the meaning of Christmas. The baby born in Bethlehem was born to die and live again, that we might know him and through him be justified.

December 13: The Righteous Reign of the Branch

Righteous Reign jpeg 001
December 13

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

Reading: Isaiah 11:1-9

Isaiah contains amazing prophecies about the first and second Advents of the Messiah. Having focused on Christ’s First Advent, his birth and incarnation in chapter 9:6-7, he next turns to the Second Advent, Christ’s future reign after his second coming. Isaiah presents him as the ideal king.⁠1 He shows Christ’s fitness to reign, the character of his reign, and the effect of his reign.⁠2


The Messiah would be “a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” Though the kingdoms of Israel and of Judah would be cut off because of their unfaithfulness to God, yet a shoot from the stump of Jesse, the father of King David, would become a branch and bear fruit. This again points to the expectation that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David.

Yet it was not his mere biological descent from David that will make him fit to reign. Rather his anointing by the Spirit of the LORD will make him apt to reign:

Isaiah 11:2 (ESV)
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.


Second, Christ’s yet future reign will be one of justice and equity. Possessing perfect knowledge, he will not judge by appearance or hearsay. Instead, he will consistently judge with righteousness, executing perfect justice.

Isaiah 11:4 (ESV)
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

In this present world of injustice, exploitation, violence, and war, we cry out for justice. When will justice ever be served? Justice will be served when Christ returns to reign.


Our Genesis 3 world is a disordered world as a result of Adam’s sin, the fall of man. Relationships are broken or perverted. Everyone knows that things are not right with world, but no one is able to fix it. 

Christ’s reign is called “the restoration” (Acts 3:21). In that day, everyone will know that Christ is King and his reign is one of righteousness.

Isaiah paints this image in symbolic and perhaps even literal terms:

Isaiah 11:6 (ESV)
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

Under the reign of the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the world will be a safe place for everyone, and everyone will know the LORD, from the least to the greatest:

Isaiah 11:9 (ESV)
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

The Apostle Paul points to Christ’s second coming and his rule of the nations:

Romans 15:12 (ESV)  —  And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

Yes, in Christ Jesus the Gentiles will hope!

1 Barry Webb, The Message of Isaiah: On Eagles’ Wings, ed. J. A. Motyer and Derek Tidball, The Bible Speaks Today (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996), 74.

2 Barry Webb, 75.

December 12: Jesus Our Immanuel

Jesus Our Immanuel jpeg 001

December 12

Jesus Our Immanuel

Advent reading: Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7

The Messiah would be both human and divine. He would be both the Son of David and the Son of God. This was clearly what Jesus understood (Matthew 22:41-46. See the Advent reading for December 11).

But how could this be? How could David’s human descendant be divine? How could David’s many times great grandson be God’s own Son?

Seven hundred years before Christ’s birth, the prophet Isaiah announced:

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)  —  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

While this prophecy had symbolic application in its historical context, Matthew finds its greater literal fulfillment in the birth of Christ:

Matthew 1:23 (ESV)  —  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

How would God be “with us”? How would the Word become flesh and dwell among us (John 1:14)? How would God become man? By being born of “the virgin.”

Isaiah further prophesies about this virgin-born child in chapter 9.

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given; 
“his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

These first three names (Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father) clearly point to Christ’s deity, while “Prince of Peace” points to his humanity.[1]


This virgin-born child, “God with us”, was born to reign. Christ’s yet future rule as Prince of Peace is declared:

Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV)
…and the government shall be upon his shoulder…, 

Of the increase of his government and of peace 
there will be no end, 
on the throne of David and over his kingdom, 
to establish it and to uphold it 
with justice and with righteousness 
from this time forth and forevermore.

The virgin would ask, “How will this be?” (Luke 1:34). The prophet had already answered her question:[2]

“The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:7).

[1]Geoffrey W. Grogan, “Isaiah,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III, Garland David E., vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 529.

[2]Grogan, 529.