Week 1, Day 2

READ:  Matthew 1

BACKGROUND:  The first chapter of Matthew introduces us to two overarching themes that will be present throughout his gospel: 1. Jesus as the promised Messiah and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, & 2. The radical inclusion of all people – not just Jews – in the Kingdom Jesus was building.  So, how does it introduce these themes?

Verse 1 makes a very specific and unmistakable claim that Jesus is the promised savior of the Old Testament as Matthew assigns him four very significant names:

  • Jesus – from the Greek/Latin spelling of the Hebrew name Jeshua which means “The Lord is salvation.”
  • The Messiah – or the Christ in some translations, from the Hebrew Meshiah & the Greek Christos (which is the word Matthew uses here) which both mean “anointed one.”
  • The son of Abraham – The Messiah/Christ absolutely had to come from the line of Abraham as promised in the Old Testament.
  • The son of David – Same as Abraham. Also, the Davidic ancestral line establishes his kingship.

Verse 23 further establishes Matthew’s theme of prophetic fulfillment in the person of Jesus by directly quoting Isaiah 7:14 to state that the events surrounding the birth of Jesus took place for the specific purpose of fulfilling this prophecy.

The theme of inclusion of all the people of the earth in Jesus’ mission shows up powerfully too. As the “son of Abraham” Jesus is one through whom “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” according to Genesis 12:3. Also, in a totally radical move because women were second-class citizens in society in the first century AD & because Jews considered Gentiles (anybody who wasn’t Jewish) to be second-class citizens or worse, Matthew includes Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, & Bathsheba in Jesus’ genealogy. That’s four women! And two gentiles! One prostitute, one who pretended to be one, and one adulteress! Matthew is already building towards the Great Commission – to take the gospel into all the world – by showing that this Jesus guy is for everybody whether they are Jews or Gentiles, men or women, righteous or broken, kings or prostitutes.

THINK:  I’m a pretty big soccer fan. It’s possible that I’m an overly obsessive sports fan in general, but I really love watching soccer. And my favorite team is Manchester United of the English Premier League, partially because their star player is chubby and balding and I really relate to that & partially because they are the most dominant team in the league. They have a record 19 championships. I’m also a fan of the Yankees (as soon as the Cubs are out of it which is usually mid-April). I apologize to all of you who are offended by that…please bear with me! They, too, are the most dominant team in the league with a record 27 championships (the Cardinals are in 2nd place with only 11). In some ways it’s awesome to cheer for teams that win all the time, but here’s the catch: in some ways it’s really not. One of the most common criticisms leveled at United fans and Yankee fans alike is that they’ve lost the joy of being fans – they’ve become so accustomed to winning that it is simply an expectation rather than an excitement. Watching their teams win has become so commonplace that they’ve lost the wonder and the beauty of it all.

I wonder sometimes if all of us are in that boat when it comes to Christmas – this season where we annually celebrate the birth of Jesus. I mean, we’ve all heard the Christmas story a thousand times and we’ve seen glowing Nativity scenes in people’s yards all our lives. The language and the imagery are terribly familiar. But I wonder if, in that familiarity, we’ve lost some of the wonder about what actually happened that night. Has it all become so commonplace that we don’t even stop to think and to marvel at the miracle?

In Matthew 1, these things happened:

  • The Holy Spirit put a baby in the womb of a virgin
  • An angel appeared and told Joseph to marry her even though she was pregnant
  • The angel told Joseph to name the baby “The Lord is salvation,” because he was going to save the people from their sins.
  • Mary, the virgin, gave birth & Joseph named the baby Jesus.

It’s absolutely incredible! Outrageous! Amazing! The Christmas story is beyond comprehension. And one of the things I marvel at is the willingness of all the people involved to yield themselves to the will of God. Mary said, “Okay, God!” So did Joseph and the shepherds and the wise men. And God worked wonders and miracles through them. If anything, this story & this chapter in Matthew demonstrate that God is at work in our world and that he can and will do amazing things to accomplish his plan and restore a lost humanity to himself. Are you willing to let him work through you? Are you willing to follow in the footsteps of Mary & Joseph & the others and say “okay” to God? God wants to use you to make a difference for his Kingdom; he wants to work through you to do amazing things and change the world. He is real. He is present. He is calling. Don’t just go through the motions let your faith become so monotonous and dry that you miss out on the wonder and majesty of his design for your life.

ASK:  What are some incredible things that God has done in my life that I marvel at? What are some specific areas where I need to say “okay” to God?

3 responses »

  1. Taylor says:

    Pastor Mike,

    I was wondering i you had a suggestion to how I can get more out of the genealogy part of the Bible?

    I look forward to hearing from you soon!

    • maddogs83 says:

      Good question! I’m not sure that I have a great answer for you, but I’ll give it a brief shot and then we can continue the conversation from there if you’re interested. They tend to be the parts of the Bible – especially the Old Testament – that we really gloss over or just skip entirely. But they aren’t in God’s inspired and holy Word for no reason, and that likely means they merit more attention than they’re given. First off, it takes work to get something out of a genealogy. More work even than other parts of the Bible that may be challenging. It means cross-referencing the names that are listed and looking them up in order to learn about them. But something really interesting can happen when we do that. We learn about the family history that shapes the individual whose genealogy is listed. And that is NOT insignificant. For Jesus, because he’s Jesus, we learn that he is the fulfillment of prophecy handed down to generation after generation and we learn something of his greater mission in coming to earth since both women & Gentiles are listed there. This is awesome! For others, we learn why they’re so messed up. 🙂 Seriously. One of the most fascinating things I’ve ever done in my life – and I did it for an assignment and NOT because I gave a hoot about my ancestors – was a spiritual genogram (a genealogy/family tree with extra info about each person and all of the relationships) of my family. I’m a huge history nerd and I firmly believe that we cannot fully understand where and who we are unless we understand where and who we’ve been and where and who we come from (in a broader cultural and familial sense). So, looking up the people who are listed in a genealogy (as far as it is possible) gives us really keen insight into the ways in which an individual was shaped by his/her family of origin and, subsequently, the reasons that he/she made the decisions or reacted to situations in the manner he/she did. Ultimately, above all else, genealogies in the Bible allow us to sit back and marvel at God’s faithfulness extended throughout all generations. Hope that helps – or at least provides a start.

      • Taylor says:

        Pastor Mike,

        I just remembered that I asked a question on this post. I received an email wanting to confirm my other post. But, thanks for answering my question, thinking about it as a family tree, which it essential is, but putting it terms just helps.

        By the way, I also did I family tree project in 8th grade and I love history as well.

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