The Virgin Birth | Matthew 1:18-25
Brian Hedges | December 10, 2023
Let me invite you to turn in Scripture this morning to Matthew 1. We’re going to be in Matthew 1:18-25.
While you’re turning there, let me remind you of a name that maybe some of you haven’t heard before, but if you’ve been in the church for a while and you remember what was going on in evangelicalism twenty years ago you’ll remember this name: Rob Bell. Anyone remember Rob Bell? A few of you do.
Rob Bell was the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, and Rob Bell was big in 2003. When I first moved here, Rob Bell was all the rage. I remember watching the videos that he was producing, the Nooma videos. Rob Bell was kind of combining faith and spirituality with film in this art form, and he was a very gifted communicator. I remember watching those videos just deeply impressed with how good of a communicator he was and how brilliant he was in putting these things together. So I was following Rob Bell’s ministry in those first couple of years.
Then in 2005 Rob Bell released his first book, and the title was Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. Now, the title alone is enough to give you pause, and while he was an excellent writer, when I started reading that book there were yellow and red flags popping up everywhere as I was reading the things he was saying.
The very first chapter of that book was called “Jump,” and this was the operating illustration for that chapter. He imagined the Christian faith like a trampoline, and faith is jumping on the trampoline, and you have a number of different springs on the trampoline. He said those springs are like the doctrines of Christianity. He said the doctrines are not God, the doctrines are not Christ. You can have the trampoline even if you’re missing some of the springs.
Among the doctrines that he suggested are like springs was the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. As soon as I read that, it was a red flag for me. This is what he said. This is a quote. He said,
“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mythra and Dionysian cults, that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? What if that spring was seriously questioned? Could a person keep jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian?”
I read that—red flags. On the next page, he did affirm at that time that he believed in the historic Christian faith, including the virgin birth, and he contrasted this analogy of a trampoline with that of a brick wall. The idea is that you have a brick wall, and if you pull out a brick from the bottom of the wall the wall comes tumbling down, and he thought that was an unhelpful way to think about the Christian faith.
Of course, the analogy itself is unfair, because who would not rather have a trampoline than a brick wall? A trampoline is much more attractive than a brick wall.
But the analogy was faulty, and faulty because of the way he characterized these important doctrines of springs. I think it would have been more accurate to say that the doctrines of the Trinity, which he also considered a spring, and the doctrine of the virgin birth, and all of the supernatural elements of Christianity that are encoded, for example, in the Apostles’ Creed and have been so foundational to Christianity for two thousand years, that those doctrines are not springs, they’re more like the frame that holds the trampoline up. Or you might say they are like four wheels of a car, and if you take off one of those wheels the car won’t move anymore. They’re much more foundational than he was suggesting.
Of course, as time unfolded, Rob Bell began to depart more and more from historic Christianity. He eventually questioned the doctrine of hell, he posited the idea of universalism. Thousands of people left his megachurch, and he eventually left Mars Bible Church himself. He moved to California to start making films. A few years later he was on tour with Oprah, and that tells you a lot. He actually now has much more in common with Oprah than he does with anything like historic Christianity.
It shows us, on one hand, that these kinds of departures from foundational truths of Christianity are often a first step away from Christianity altogether. So when we think about deconstruction and we think about people who are leaving the church and leaving the faith, it often starts with questioning those basic doctrines.
Why do I begin in this way? It’s not that I think we should receive all of these doctrines without a close examination of the evidence. In fact, that’s exactly what I want to do this morning. But it is to suggest that the doctrine of the virgin birth is actually central to our faith, and that when we look carefully at what the Gospel writers say we can see that. That’s what I want us to do this morning as we dig into Matthew 1:18-25. This paragraph is one of the key paragraphs in the Gospel narratives that teach us about the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
This is the second message in our series on Matthew’s Gospel. We’re beginning with these first few chapters of the Gospel in a series called “The Advent of the King.” This will take us through Advent and into January. We’re going to read these verses together, Matthew 1:18-25, and then look at three things about the virgin birth:
1. The Objections to the Virgin Birth
2. The Evidence for the Virgin Birth
3. The Purpose of the Virgin Birth
Let’s read the text, Matthew 1:18.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel’
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
This is God’s word.
So, this is actually a quite simple passage, though it communicates to us a very profound truth about the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus Christ. As I mentioned, I want to look at three things:
1. The Objections to the Virgin Birth
2. The Evidence for the Virgin Birth
3. The Purpose of the Virgin Birth
1. The Objections to the Virgin Birth
First of all, the objections to the virgin birth. There are a number of ways that people will state their objections.
(1) For example, some people would say that the virgin birth is just not scientific, and though it’s recorded for us in Scripture it represents the naïveté of people in a pre-scientific age. Here were people, before the beginnings of modern medicine, before there was really an understanding of science, and they supposed that it was possible that someone could be born of a virgin. They didn’t really understand the way babies are made.
I think the simple answer to that is that it’s insulting to the vast majority of the human race, who certainly understood how babies were made. You don’t need a PhD. in biology to know that in the course of nature it takes both a father and a mother to produce a child. In fact, the way in which the stories unfold in the Gospel narratives show that it was a surprise to everybody. I mean, this was an astonishing thing. It took a supernatural invention, a visit from the angel of the Lord, to convince Joseph to go on with the marriage to Mary. If you read the birth narratives in Luke’s Gospel you’ll see that Mary required this kind of supernatural intervention as well. There had to be some explanation, because everyone knew that a virgin could not conceive a child.
(2) There are some who would say that the virgin birth story was added to the gospel records. They would suggest that Matthew’s Gospel really began with Matthew 3, and chapters 1-2 were just added on. I don’t know that any serious scholar would even give the least bit of credibility to that. There is zero manuscript evidence for such a claim.
(3) Others would say that the virgin birth is simply a Christian carryover from ancient mythology, and they would be troubled by the fact that there are virgin birth stories in some of the other ancient mythologies of the world.
For example, the Babylonians believed that Tamuz was conceived in the priestess Simaramus by a sunbeam. Others have suggested that the Buddha was conceived when his mother supposedly saw a great white elephant enter into her belly. There are similar stories in Hinduism. There’s even a legend that Alexander the Great was virgin-born by the power of Zeus when a snake somehow impregnated his mother Olympus.
Even in popular culture, you might remember that twenty-something years ago when George Lucas released Star Wars: The Phantom Menace he suggested that Anakin Skywalker was conceived by the force and was born of a virgin.
What are we to make of these virgin-birth stories in the various mythologies of the world? I think there are a couple of things to say.
On one hand, we could say that when you read the gospel narratives they are reported with simple, historical, factual evidence and without any of the mythological extras that you have in all of these other ancient stories. There’s no white elephants, there’s no snakes, there’s nothing like a sunbeam. There is a sense of delicacy and decorum that comes in the gospel records that is totally lacking in the fanciful, mythological stories. So there’s quite a contrast between them. If the gospel writers are trying to borrow from the mythological stories they didn’t do a very good job because they don’t include any of the specifically mythological elements that are in those stories.
But on the other hand, I also think it’s true to say with C.S. Lewis, that in Christianity there’s a mythological element. But it is myth that has become fact. It is that supernatural dimension to the Christian story that is actually true. Lewis wrote about this in one of his essays published in his book God in the Dock. And he said,
“We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about parallels and pagan christs. They ought to be there. It would be a stumbling block if they weren’t. For this is the marriage of heaven and earth, perfect myth and perfect fact, claiming not only our love and obedience but also our wonder and our delight.”
I think at the end of the day when you look at all of the objections to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ they really boil down to this: a prior assumption that the supernatural cannot be true, a rejection of what we might call Christian supernaturalism. That’s really what it boils down to. It’s the idea that anything that is miraculous that’s recorded in the Bible has to be explained away. And so the miracles are explained away, the resurrection is explained away, the virgin birth is explained away. Every divine intervention in human history is explained away. And this was exactly the move that was made by theological liberalism in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, and it’s the same kind of move that’s being made by some progressives today.
They go to the doctrine of creation. They look at Genesis 1-10 and they say, “This is all just parable. It’s all just fable. It’s all just poetry. There’s no history here.” And so they remove the supernatural out of creation.
They go to the Bible and they say, “You know, the Bible is a collection of wonderful, human sayings. It represents ancient wisdom but it was entirely written by men and we can’t say that it was inspired by God, that God was the author of this book. We can’t claim that it is authoritative and without error.” And so they take the supernatural out of the Scriptures.
And then they look at Jesus and they say, “You know, Jesus was a great moral teacher. But certainly he was born of a human father and a human mother, and though he died a terrible death he didn’t really rise literally from the dead. He just lives on in the consciousness and the memory of his people. He didn’t really produce miracles. When he died, he died as an example of love but it wasn’t an atonement for sins.” And so they take all of the supernatural out of the person, the work of Jesus Christ.
When you do that, what you end up with is a Christianity that is stripped of every distinctively Christian element. If you take the supernatural out of Christianity there’s no Christianity left. All you are left with is moralism. All you are left with is someone telling you a better way to live your life but there’s no real answer to the great questions of life. There’s no great answer to the great need of human beings, the need for a divine intervention that brings grace and redemption and salvation.
2. The Evidence for the Virgin Birth
So what then is the evidence for the virgin birth? If we accept this basic presupposition that there is a God, it should not be hard for us to accept the testimony of Scripture. And what I want to show you is just that the Bible teaches clearly the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. And we see it in a number of places.
We could also look at the historical evidence for it. And this would be an answer to those who say that, “You know, all of the places in the Bible that teach the virgin birth are really just later editions. But the earliest Christians certainly didn’t believe in the virgin birth of Christ.” But all you’ve got to do is look at the Apostle’s Creed, which dates from probably the early second century, the oldest creed of the church. You look at the epistles of Ignatius, who was martyred in AD 108 under Emperor Trajan. You look at Iranaeus in his book Against Heresies where he talks about the ancient tradition. And this is the late second century. He calls it the ancient tradition and he’s including the virgin birth of Christ. And then you look at the great ecumenical creeds of the church in the third and fourth centuries and it becomes clear that the virgin birth of Christ, along with his resurrection and many other foundational truths of the Christian faith, have been there from the beginning. And genuine believers throughout the ages have affirmed this doctrine.
But let’s look at the evidence for it in Matthew, especially in this passage, in Matthew 1. I just want to give you five quick arguments or five quick reasons to believe in the virgin birth of Christ.
(1) First of all, we can point out Matthew’s grammar. And this actually comes from Matthew 1:16. So this is the end of the genealogy that we read last week. Verse 16 says, “And Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.”
The important word there is the word “whom.” It is a feminine, relative pronoun. And being feminine it has to have a feminine antecedent, which means it goes back to Mary. “Of whom” refers to Mary, not to Joseph. And it’s showing us here that Matthew is going out of his way to clarify that Joseph was not in any way the biological father of Jesus. Jesus was born of Mary, but not of Joseph. And then in chapter 2, five times Matthew refers to “the child and his mother.” He never refers to Joseph as the biological father of Jesus. It’s very clear in Matthew’s mind that Jesus was the son of Mary but not the son of Joseph. Joseph was not his physical father. So Matthew’s grammar communicates this.
(2) Then secondly, you have the fact of Mary’s pregnancy in Matthew 1:18-19.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When Mary, his mother, had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”
You’ve got to imagine the situation here. Here is this young Jewish couple who have been betrothed to one another in marriage. This was something like an engagement but more legally binding then an engagement ring would be today. They were betrothed to one another, probably an arranged marriage, and in order for them to not be married would require a legal divorce.
And when this young teenage girl, Mary, becomes pregnant, you can only imagine what Joseph must have thought. He must have felt betrayed. He must have felt deeply disappointed.
And he’s faced with a dilemma. What is he going to do? He could go on and marry, but to do so would be to tarnish his own integrity as if he himself were the father of the child when he wasn’t. And of course, he would have to overcome all of his feelings of betrayal in order to marry her if she had been unfaithful to him. He could file a lawsuit against Mary and her family and do this in a public way, but that would bring shame upon Mary. Matthew 1:19 says that Joseph was a just man and he was unwilling to put her to shame. So his only other option was to divorce her quietly, and that’s what he resolved to do.
But here’s the thing: Mary’s pregnancy had to be reckoned with. She became pregnant and Joseph knew he wasn’t the father. Joseph had to reckon with this, and the only implication, the only alternative to believing that this was a supernaturally conceived child, virginally conceived, the only other alternative is that Jesus had been conceived through an illegitimate union, an immoral union by someone that Mary was not married to.
And in fact, there were some in Jesus’ day who may have actually believed this. There’s a place in John 8 where Jesus is in dialogue with the Pharisees, and the Pharisees kind or retort back to him with this kind of veiled accusation. They say, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one father, even God.” And they seem to be implying, “You were born of fornication. You were born of sexual immorality. Not us.” And it hints that maybe even the rumor around town was that everybody really knew that Mary was pregnant before Joseph and Mary were married and there was some other father that was involved. And this is what liberal theologians are forced to say if they take out the virgin birth of Christ.
There was one liberal, American theologian some years ago who suggested that Jesus was born, or was conceived rather, by Mary’s union with a Roman soldier who was of Germanic origins and that that accounts for why in some of the arts concerning Jesus, paintings of Jesus which are hundreds of years, of course, after the time of Christ that that’s the reason why Jesus is often blond in the art. It was a really facetious kind of supposition. Mary’s pregnancy had to be accounted for, and Joseph knew this, and that’s why he needed some kind of supernatural intervention.
(3) That leads to the third line of evidence which is the angel's message in Matthew 1:20-21. “As he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.”
Now, you have to remember that it had been four hundred years since there had even been a prophet in Israel, four hundred years since the last book of the Old Testament had been written. Having dreams was not an everyday occurrence. A visit from an angel was not something that people would just expect. And Joseph, no doubt, was surprised by this.
Look at what the angel says. “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife.” There’s a word of comfort. “Don’t fear, Joseph, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
Now there’s the basic explanation. It’s the same explanation that’s given to Mary herself prior to her conception when an angel comes to her and tells her that she is going to be with child and this child will be conceived by the power of the Most High God, by the Holy Spirit. The angel goes on, Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” They’re giving Joseph a command of what he is to do. He is to marry this young woman, the virgin Mary, he is to go on and marry her and then when the child is born Joseph is to name the child Jesus.
(4) The reason that he is to do this is that the prophecy might be fulfilled. And that leads to the fourth reason, Matthew 1:22-23. This is the fourth evidence for the virgin birth, and it is the fulfillment of the prophecy, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet.” And then a quotation from Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means, God with us.”
And of course, that verse itself and Matthew’s use of it is often a contested battle ground in biblical studies. We don’t have time to go into it this morning, but I would just suggest to you, if you’ve ever had any doubt that Matthew is appropriately quoting and using Isaiah’s prophecy in his gospel, go read D.A. Carson, or J.A. Motyer, or Dale Ralph Davis, any of their commentaries where they deal with this passage of Isaiah. Their commentaries on Isaiah or Matthew present, I think, a very profound and convincing case that this was a genuine prophecy of a Messiah and that Matthew was right to connect Isaiah 7:14 with the conception of Jesus.
(5) So you have the fulfillment of prophecy, and then, finally, you have Joseph’s response, Matthew 1:24-25. This may be the most astounding thing of all, that when Joseph awoke from his sleep he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took his wife. What guy would be easily convinced that if his betrothed turns up pregnant, not by him, he’d be convinced enough that he would go on and marry her when he knew it was not his child? But Joseph was convinced. And he was convinced by this divine intervention and visitation of the angel.
And Matthew 1:25 says, “And he knew her not until she had given birth to a son,” thus confirming that Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born. And then Joseph named the son Jesus.
Again, I said at the beginning, this is a pretty simple account. All we have to do is work through the verses and see what it says. But it presents to us very clearly the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. If we are to take Scripture at face value and believe what it actually says, we must hold to this doctrine.
The only alternative to that will lead us away from the faith altogether. And I think one of the best explanations of this comes from J. Oswald Sanders in a classic book, The Incomparable Christ. If you want to read a great book read Sanders. Don’t read Rob Bell. In The Incomparable Christ Sanders says,
“Let us consider the alternatives that face us if this doctrine is
fiction and not fact.
1. The New Testament narratives are proved false
and the Book is robbed of its authority on other
2. Mary, instead of being blessed among women, is
branded as unchaste, for Joseph asserted that
Jesus was not his son.
3. Jesus becomes the natural child of sinful parents,
which at once rules out His preexistence, with the
result that there was no real incarnation.
4. We are deprived of any adequate explanation of
His unique character and sinless life.
5. If He was begotten of a human father—and that is
the only alternative to virgin birth—he was not the
second Person of the Trinity as He claimed, and
therefore had no power to forgive sin.
6. If this miracle is denied, where do we stop?
Logically we should deny all miracles. The
question really is, Are we willing to accept the
supernaturalistic claims of Scripture or not?”
The evidence of the virgin birth from the Scriptures is clear. And the reason that it must be accepted is both because the Scriptures teach it and also because of the great significance that is given to it when we see the purpose of our Lord’s birth.
3. The Purpose of the Virgin Birth
We have to ask “why.” Why was Jesus born of a virgin? Why did God choose to send his Son into the world in this way? What was the purpose of it? What was the purpose of the incarnation altogether? And I think we see that in the two names that are given to Jesus here in Matthew 1:21-23.
(1) First of all, Jesus. Look at verse 21. “She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Which means that Christ our Lord was born of a virgin in order to deliver us from our sins. That’s what salvation is. It’s deliverance. Deliverance from our sins and, of course, Jesus—the name Jeshua— means “Yahweh will save.”
This was the way in which God would fulfill his great promise to his people. I read earlier this morning from Psalm 130:7-8, “O Israel, hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is steadfast love. With him is plentiful redemption, and he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” This is why he was born. He was born in order to die, that he might deliver us from sin and death.
Do you remember those words of the apostle Paul? 1 Timothy 1:15, “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
You see, the real message of Christmas is that Jesus was born to be crucified. The manger was a gateway to the cross and the virgin birth was making way for a vicarious, substitutionary death as Jesus—the perfect God-Man with a divine nature, but also with a human nature, these two natures united in one person—Jesus, the perfect God-Man would come and take the place of sinners. He had to be a man to live the obedient life that we didn’t live and to suffer in his flesh the penalty for our sins, but he had to be God in order to actually accomplish redemption and salvation. And only the virgin birth gives us an explanation for the person of Christ. We needed a savior. We needed someone to deliver us.
And so the virgin birth is intimately connected to the gospel, which shows us God’s great answer to the problem of human sin and guilt—the problem, really, of all of the suffering and the evil in the world. We look around the world—-why do we live in a world like this? Why is the world as it is? And you look at your own heart and you might ask, “Why is my heart as it is?” And what is the answer to all of the evil and iniquity and wickedness that I see both in myself and I see in the world around me? And there’s only one answer. That answer is the divine intervention, the supernatural grace that is given to us through the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who lived the life we should have lived, who died the death we should have died, and through the cross and resurrection overcame sin and death and all the consequences of sin. This is our hope, brothers and sisters. Salvation through Jesus Christ. He was born to deliver us from our sins.
(2) And then secondly, from Matthew 1:22-23, he was also born to dwell with us. His name is Immanuel, God with us. I think it reminds us of those great Old Testament promises where God said, “I will be your God and you will be my people and I will dwell among you.” And this was the great longing of the human heart.
Ever since Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden, expelled from the garden, they lost the presence of God. They lost the face of God. No longer in communion with their creator. And what’s the answer? The answer is that God says, “I will come and I will dwell among you.”
And he does this, first of all, foreshadowing the great incarnation of Christ. He does it as he gives Israel a tabernacle, where there in the tabernacle the very presence of God would dwell in the midst of the camp. And then as a temple is built and the glory of God descends and fills this temple and there is God’s glory dwelling among them.
But all of that is just a shadow, pointing forward to the reality that is seen in Jesus Christ. Perhaps it’s nowhere better expressed than in John’s Gospel, John 1:14, where John says, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us,” literally tabernacled among us, “and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
If Jesus, the Savior, was born of a virgin to deliver us from our sins and that answers the problem of sin and guilt, then Jesus, our Immanuel, was born to dwell among us. And that answers the problem of our need for a restored relationship with God, the problem of our exile from God.
I love those words of Charles Wesley:
“Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord.
Late in time, behold him come,
Offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see,
Hail, incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.”
The reason he was born was to deliver us and to dwell among us, to save us from our sins, and then to restore us to a relationship with God.
Let me end in this way. Years ago, before the popular talk-show host, Larry King, died, he was one time asked this question. If he had the choice to interview anyone in history, who would he choose and what question would he ask? And this is what Larry King said. He said he would interview Jesus Christ, and he would ask one question. “Were you really born of a virgin?” “Because,” he said, “the answer to that question would explain history for me.”
Brothers and sisters, the virgin birth of Christ is that important. It is that central to our faith. It’s not a spring on the trampoline. It is an essential part of the foundational doctrine that upholds the whole Christian doctrine, the gospel itself. We dare not let it go. We dare not stray from it. Instead, let us accept the testimony of Scripture and let us wonder and worship as we consider the miracle of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ and the profound reason why he was born among us—to save us from our sins. Let’s pray together.
Gracious, merciful God, we thank you this morning for the truth of your word and for the simple and beautiful story recorded for us here in the gospel of Matthew. We thank you for the testimony that it gives us of the human beginnings of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he was conceived of the Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. And, Lord, as we have considered this morning the implications of rejecting this doctrine and we’ve considered the implications if this is true, would you give us the faith to hold to it with all of our hearts, to believe and affirm this truth, and to recognize that our hope and our salvation and the fulfillment of the deepest longings of our hearts—that the virgin birth of Christ is essential to the fulfillment of all those things. And so, Lord, would you impress these things on our hearts this morning and give us the faith to hold to them.
As we come to the Lord’s table this morning, we ask you to draw near to us in your grace and in your mercy as we remember what Christ has done for us in shedding his blood for our sins on the cross. May we come to the table in humble and in repentant faith, believing in who Jesus is and what he has done. And may you be glorified in our worship. We pray this in Jesus’ name and for his sake. Amen.