1. Verse 19 says that Joseph was a righteous man but did not want to expose Mary to public disgrace, so he planned to divorce her quietly. How was his decision motivated both by righteousness and grace?
Joseph showed his righteousness in breaking off his relationship with Mary. Her sin would have a consequence. But he showed grace in keeping the matter as quiet as possible and so sparing Mary humiliation.
2. How can we show righteousness and grace when someone sins against us?
We can confront them about their sin and enforce any boundaries or consequences we feel are necessary. We should not act as if the offense did not occur. But we should also be ready to forgive the person who offended us and not badmouth them to others.
3. After Joseph decided to end his engagement with Mary, an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him to do the opposite. Have you ever had God correct your course?
4. In verse 21, we read that Jesus, which means “God saves,” will save His people from their sins. What does it mean for Jesus to save us from our sins?
Jesus not only saves us from going to Hell as the consequence for our sins but He gives us the power not to sin anymore.
Romans 6:15-22 - What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
5. Matthew notes that Jesus’ birth fulfills the prophecy by Isaiah. Read Isaiah 7:13-17:
Isaiah 7:13-17 - Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. 17The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.”
What is this prophecy by Isaiah referring to?
The prophet is saying that a young, unmarried woman will marry and have a child. When that child is still young, the king of Assyria will come to defeat Judah’s enemies. Note: This prophecy was fulfilled.
6. If this is what the prophecy means and has already been fulfilled, how can Matthew apply the prophecy to the birth of Jesus?
God’s prophecies often apply twice, with the second fulfillment having a deeper meaning in Jesus. In Isaiah’s day, a female virgin married and had a child. In Jesus, an actual virgin gave birth to the Anointed One. In Isaiah’s day, this prophecy signaled that Israel would be saved from her enemies. In Jesus, the prophecy signals that people would be saved from their sins. In Isaiah’s day, the prophecy showed that God was with Judah. In Jesus, God actually walked among His people in the person of Jesus.
We’ll see more double fulfillments of prophecy as we read through the Gospels.
7. In verse 25, we read that Joseph did not have sex with Mary until she gave birth to Jesus. Why did Joseph wait to have sex with his wife?
Joseph knew that Mary was pregnant with the Son of God. The baby she was carrying was holy. He refrained from normal human activity to show respect for Jesus’ holiness.
8. How can we show respect for the holy?
We need to recognize God’s Presence and God’s activity in the world. When we see God at work, we need to stop what we’re doing and let God work, or join Him in His work.
9. Turning to Luke 2, verse 14 tells us the angels said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” How can we give glory to God?
In everything, we need to acknowledge that God is most important. We give Him glory when we talk about Him, when we praise Him, when we obey Him.
10. The angels also announced peace to those on whom God’s favor rests. How does Jesus give us peace with God?
Colossians 1:21-22 - Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation
We were enemies of God when we were sinning against Him. But Jesus took the punishment for our sins so that we could have peace with God.
11. What did the shepherds do after they saw Jesus?
They went and told other people (verse 17). And that’s what we should do. Now that we know Jesus, we should tell other people about Him so that they can come to know Him and have peace with God by believing in Him.