We came to Matthew with the understanding that it is written for the Jews of the time, to show fulfillment of the Torah. He wrote at a time when Jews and Jewish and Gentile Christians were figuring out how they related to one another, and how they fit together in the overall story.
Matthew begins his account with the lineage of Jesus, showing his readers that Jesus is a Jew, and from the line of David. He was born in Bethlehem according the the Micah 5:2 prophecy. He was born of a virgin, fulfilling the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy, and beginning his life as a miracle.
Jesus’ birth was revealed to the wise men from the east. These were not the righteous Jews who would’ve expected to be told of the Messiah’s coming. In fact, when they told the Jewish King, Herod the Great what they had learned, he and “everyone in Jerusalem” were disturbed at the news. Herod didn’t want a new king; he was a ruthless protector of his own authority. Yet it was the unexpected people who were told of the Saviour’s coming. After this, we see an interesting parallel between Jesus’ life, and that of the Israelites. His family had to leave their land and go to Egypt to find safety (Jacob’s family ran to Egypt to be saved from the famine). Herod the Great slaughtered hundreds of baby boys in an effort to maintain his power, just as Pharaoh did. When the time came, the Spirit of the Lord let them into the Promised Land, Nazareth for Jesus (fulfilling Isaiah 40:3).
Luke wrote to relate Jesus to every ethnicity and gender. He compiled as much information as he could, in order to present information as completely as he could. The nativity account here is believed to be directly from Mary, indicated by the details regarding her thoughts and the greater detail of events surrounding Jesus’ birth.
Many Jews were expecting a conquering King to save them from the Roman rule. Others were awaiting one who would heal their afflictions. No one was expecting a baby in a stinky cave, and no one was expecting the shepherds to be the ones to announce the coming of the Messiah.
However, as much as Jesus began to break expectations from the beginning, his family did follow temple tradition following his birth. He was offered to God, as all first born Jewish sons were, but would have also been bought back with the traditional redemption price. His mother was ritualistically purified after giving birth.
We meet Simeon and Anna in Luke 2. These are two individuals who were faithful Jews, but were also waiting for God to reveal the messiah to them. Simeon recognized the baby Jesus as the one who fulfilled Isaiah 42:6-7 and 49:6. Jesus was the one who would restore Israel to what she had been created to be-the light to reveal God to the nations. Anna recognized baby Jesus as well, and told everyone around her that God had come to rescue Jerusalem. I don’t know what their reaction to this was, but goodness gracious, I hope I can live an expectant, full faith, content in God’s presence and Word, as she did regardless of what others thought.
This is also the chapter where we see Jesus stay behind in Jerusalem to speak to the teachers at age 12. We see that he recognized God as his Father, but was also obedient to his parents. He went back to Nazareth to grow in maturity and wisdom, as we all must.
The big theme we found in the Nativity accounts, was that God sent Jesus for everyone, but not for their expectations. He came to the shepherds, the nobles from far off lands, the humble girl from Galilee, and the old man and woman waiting in the Temple. You are not too obscure, marginalized, dirty, or insignificant for God to use you as an important part of his plan. He sees you, and will reveal himself to you. I love that in a culture dominated by men and religious leaders, it was the women and shepherds who God chose to carry his initial message of the Messiah’s birth.
At this point, we’ve seen at least 4 prophecies fulfilled.