Love is Our New Law

Matthew 1:18-25

For Matthew, the story of Jesus is a way of talking about God; in Jesus—his teaching, life, and ministry—God is with us. From the beginning, it is God, always God, who is active. God is the one who is living, and God is the one who saves…so much so that Matthew’s gospel is less a store of the amazing things done by Jesus and much more a proclamation of what God has done for humanity through the event of Jesus.

Matthew’s story of Joseph and Mary reveals that serving a God who is active and alive is both a wonderful and (occasionally) terrifying truth. Joseph was a righteous man. He kept strict adherence to the scripture and traditions of his people. He was rooted deeply in strong and steady expectation of how things “ought to be done.” Righteousness and justice before God demand that we keep the laws of God inviolate.  And yet…

God’s revelation to Joseph, and to each of us, is that a new thing is being done through Jesus.  A new work of grace, based on God’s love, is being revealed through Jesus.  Jesus will reveal a way of being “righteous” that both respects the law, and also orients the heart toward love.  It will take an entire gospel to reveal this new way—including a sermon on the mount, a whole host of miracles, a crucifixion and a resurrection.  But it begins here…when a man who was struggling with the tension between “doing what’s right” and “showing mercy” toward another was visited by an angel and shown another way.