Day Five: Incarnation – Immanuel

“By identifying Jesus as “God with us,” Matthew continues a theme that permeated the Old Testament concept of God with his people. When giving the law to Israel in the desert, God stressed his covenantal intent: I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people (Lev. 26:12).  The nation was called to a relationship in which God was with his people. No other person or god was to take a place of preeminence and so usurp his place. Even when God called men and women to leadership roles (e.g., Moses, Joshua, the judges, prophets), they were only intermediate leaders. God alone was to have the place of preeminence.” [Michael Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary on Matthew, 83)

Jesus is Immanuel—God with us.  As described by the quote from Michael Wilkins above, the incarnation of our Lord assures us that Immanuel has come, and we are invited into a relationship with God of uttermost intimacy and nearness.

Today, spend time in prayer calling out to the Lord—Immanuel, God with us.  Pray through every moment and situation you are, and know the presence of Immanuel—God with us!

– GK


Day Four: Incarnation – God-man

Luke 1:26-35 (NIV) – “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraidMary; you have found favor with GodYou will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most HighThe Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacobs descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on youand the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God

“Without giving details, the angelic pronouncement makes clear that the mode of conception is not by any ordinary human means but by a totally unparalleled action of the Holy Spirit.  Matthew does not theorize how such a conception could take place but merely present it as historically authentic.  Matthew understands that there is something both natural and supernatural about Jesus in his conception, birth, and development. He presents the virgin conception and birth of Jesus as an accepted fact, thus accounting for the astounding truth that God has taken on human nature and is now with his people.  It is only this God-man who, as Matthew’s story unfolds, can save his people from their sins, which should cause them to pause in unending gratitude and to worship him as Jesus, “God saves,” and Immanuel, “God with us.” [Michael Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary on Matthew, 83]

Today, let’s consider the truth of what we have been told through God’s word, that this Jesus is the only one who can save us from our sins!  The only proper response is for us to worship Jesus with unending gratitude. Today, spend time in worship with this song by Matt Redman, “Unbroken Praise.”

– GK


Day Three: Incarnation – Joseph’s Turn

Matthew 1:19-21 – “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesusbecause he will save his people from their sins.’”

In most accounts of the incarnation of Christ, the focus is placed on Mary, for she clearly had a unique role to play as the mother of Jesus. However, when we come to today’s passage, we see an emphasis placed on Joseph, for he also had a unique role that he had to embrace as the earthly father to Jesus. Some commentaries say that most likely Joseph was an 18-year-old man, while Mary was around 13 years old.  So, we are shown a young man who was decent and law-abiding, hence contemplating a quiet divorce to Mary. However, the Lord speaks into Joseph’s life saying “this is not what you think it is!” Joseph is being told by the Lord that he is not to be an outsider or a mere observer in this incarnational miracle, rather Joseph is to be fully involved and affected.

Therefore, Joseph was to take Mary in as his wife—which was a similar experience that Mary had, which was to gladly embrace and welcome this incarnational reality into their lives. To make things even more personal, Joseph was tasked to give the child His name—Jesus!  This means that Joseph had an important role in this incarnational ministry!

Imagine this, Joseph went from being a confused and upset young man, due to his life being completely turned upside down, to now partaking in the greatest event of all—Jesus’ incarnation!

Today, may we also embrace and be affected by the incarnational ministry of Jesus.  The task that we have been given is to believe in the Lord Jesus, to worship Him, and to declare to others what He has done in our lives.

Today, take a listen to this song by Michael Card about Joseph and the incarnation. “Joseph’s Song” by Michael Card

–  GK


Day Two: Incarnation—A Virgin Birth?

Matthew 1:18 – “His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.”

Have you ever asked why a virgin birth? In Matthew 1:22, we are given a biblical explanation/glimpse by referencing Isaiah 7:14, “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’).”

Now, what is going on in Isaiah 7 is that it begins with the account of king Ahaz during a time when God’s people are immersed in idolatry, have become desensitized to sin, and there is an overall rejection of the Lord.  Therefore, as they were being oppressed by foreign powers due to Israel’s sin, God assures Ahaz of God’s promise of deliverance still.  When the Lord asks Ahaz, ‘what sign do you want to see to assure you that God will deliver you’, Ahaz refuses to obey and ask for a sign.

Now why was this so wrong?  The role of the King of Judah was to lead the people towards the Lord, and it was the role of the king to also engage the Lord for the sake of the people.  However, when the Lord is dealing and engaging King Ahaz, he refuses to take that role, and here he stops engaging God. So, at this moment, we are left with this question, what do you do if the king—the one the Lord appointed from the line of David, is no longer leading and obeying the Lord? To consider even further, what happens if there are no more descendants of king David on the throne who were tasked to lead the people towards the Lord? To answer that question, the Lord himself says, I myself will give you a sign, and that sign is that a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call him Immanuel. The point being, as Israel was in shambles, and the descendants of David thus far have failed, even still God will be faithful to His covenant by making the King/Messiah come from a virgin.  Hence, God will cause the promised Messiah to come where once there was no life or hope.

So, in this passage we are seeing the Holy Spirit do the very thing that the Lord has promised to do!  This is incarnational ministry!

So, in light of this, we come to this moment in Matthew 1—that through the Holy Spirit, Mary was pregnant with Jesus—and this is the sign of God’s promised salvation.

Today, this the sign that we have been given that assures us of God’s salvation—Jesus Christ is born of a virgin as declared in Isaiah 7:14. May hope and joy arise within our hearts, for the savior has come!

– GK


Day One: Incarnation—The Genesis

Matthew 1:17-18 – “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about…”

The first thing that we encounter in today’s passage is that Jesus’ birth (incarnation) begins with a genealogy—from Abraham to David, and then from David to the exile to Babylon, and then from the exile to Jesus. In each of these breakdowns, we are given the whole biblical history of salvation. 1. Abraham to David: Of God’s covenant, 2. David to the exile: The unfaithfulness and inability of the Israelites in keeping the covenant before the Lord, 3. From the exile to Jesus: Of the awaiting for the Messiah to come.

Now, the reason why Matthew does this is to let us know that the whole account of Jesus’ birth (incarnation) is to be understood and considered through the whole of Scripture—where every OT passage and promise has been leading up to this moment. That is why the actual Greek here does not say “Jesus’ birth”, but it says: “this is the Genesis (origin) of Jesus the Messiah.”

By using the word ‘genesis,’ the readers would immediately be taken into the Book of Genesis, and that we are to now understand God’s plan of salvation by Jesus’ incarnation as described in scripture. This has always been God’s intention, that it all begins and ends with Jesus!  Without Jesus, nothing makes sense. The OT doesn’t make sense. Without Jesus, our lives don’t make sense.

Today, as we consider the genesis of Jesus’ birth, the incarnation is the answer to every issue, need, and promise that God has made in scripture. Today spend time praying this passage: “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory” (NLT).

– GK