Matthew 1:18-25

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The birth of Jesus story in Matthew is an intimate story. It gives the audience inside information about Mary's engagement and her being with child “from the Holy Spirit.” It describes Joseph's internal decision and his subsequent dream, and creates a highly sympathetic relationship with Joseph. The narrator informs the audience that all of this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the prophet.

The final episode of Joseph doing what he was commanded—how he took Mary as his wife—culminates with the climactic statement, "And he named him Jesus." This is the shortest and therefore the slowest sentence in the whole of the story. It creates emphasis.It is a time to hold Jesus in your arms, as Joseph did, and to give him his name.

This is an opportunity to create the atmosphere of intimacy that is a central dimension of the birth story, of God's becoming intimate with us in the birth of Jesus and the way in which it happened. There are many levels of intimacy in this story, including sexual intimacy, even though the translations avoid words that would have sexual connotations.Nevertheless, the story is about sexual intercourse, marriage and divorce.

The story is about the intimate relationship between God and Joseph, between Mary and Joseph, between Joseph and Jesus. It is also about the intimate relationship between the prophet Isaiah who had prophesied these events hundreds of years before their fulfillment in this story. The tone of the story is one of quietness and intimacy, of interior experience, especially that of Joseph.

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