Monday, April 14, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 1

I have never done an in depth study of the four gospels. When considering what I was going to write about next here I was considering sticking with the Old Testament and focusing on the life of David. I believe that is where I will go next, but I feel more led to focus on Jesus' life for the next several weeks. Jesus was, after all, the most important person who has ever lived. We have seen many of His teachings through Paul's work, but we have yet to focus on the gospels themselves. It is my hope that we both come away more enlightened after taking a closer look at the gospels.

We begin in Matthew 1. Matthew starts off the New Testament, and it is the first work in the Bible after about a 460 year gap between it and the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi. The book serves as a connection between the Old and New Testaments. As we know from reading Isaiah, there were still several misconceptions within the Israelite culture. By this point in history Rome was the dominant force in the world. They controlled Jerusalem, but still allowed the Jews to worship. They, in turn were searching the prophecies about the Messiah, and Matthew begins his book with Christ's genealogy to show that He fulfilled some of the prophesies based on His ancestry.

When looking at this genealogy we see Christ's human element before he was born. We those that were righteous and blessed, like Abraham and David, listed alongside those that were corrupted by sin, like Uriah. Even though Christ was not born of a man because of the virgin birth, Matthew wanted to show that Jesus had traceable roots throughout humanity. Even though this line was steeped in sin because it was from man, Christ was above all that.

18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

 20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." – Matthew 1:18-21

God has not yet chosen to bless my wife and I with children yet. Still, I have been around enough parents to know that what Matthew writes of here is not a normal occurrence when the impending birth of a child is announced. Most of the time it is simply a strip turning blue and not some angelic host with a proclamation. Needless to say, this was a pretty big deal in the time of Christ's birth. We already see that His birth will be special simply because of the way it is supernaturally announced.

Now imagine being Joseph or Mary for a moment. If you are Joseph, you have no choice but to believe that Mary was guilty of adultery, which carried severe penalties in that society. The idea of a virgin birth was (and still is somewhat) ludicrous. Joseph simply wanted to save Mary the shame of bearing a child that was not his by sheltering her and divorcing her quietly. Mary, on the other hand, had to be confused as well. She obviously knew she had never had sex, but now she was pregnant? She also had been visited by an angel, as we see in the other gospels. They told her of her special calling in life and how she would be another fulfillment of prophesy. It is important to remember here that Mary and Joseph were likely no different than many people of the day, yet God chose them as the parents to the greatest gift He would ever give humanity.


  1. How would you react if visited by an angel as Mary and Joseph were?
  2. What is the importance of a virgin birth?
  3. Why did God choose two normal people as opposed to royalty?

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