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God Breaks Into the Narrative | Matthew 1

The book of Matthew starts off the New Testament with the family tree of Jesus.
Bible Talk: God Breaks Into the Narrative

“It is the glory of the Old Testament that it begins with the book of the generation of the world, but the glory of the New Testament excels that glory by beginning with the book of the generation of the One who made the world” –Matthew Henry from The New Matthew Henry Commentary

[6:10] The book of Matthew starts off the New Testament.  Matthew was Jew writing to the Jews.  That’s why he chose to start with the family tree of Jesus.  Ancestry was a very important thing to the Jews.  It showed and was proof of standing as one of God’s Chosen People. 

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This particular genealogy shows Abraham and David amongst the branches.  This is an important stat in proving Jesus was fulfilling prophecy and was the Messiah.  It is most likely a compressed list, not showing every generation.  Therefore, “the father of” can be translated as “the ancestor of”.  Matthew tells this from the line of Joseph.  It is interesting to note that both Joseph and Mary are descendants of David.  That really leaves no room for debate, doesn’t it?  I had never noticed before that this line is not looked at, or carried on through the first born son of all the generations.  That is a departure from what was typical in families.  First born sons got it all.  They inherited the roll as head of the family.  Jesus comes from the younger brothers.  Matthew Henry says “this showed the preeminence of Christ did not come from an unbroken succession of firstborn sons in his ancestry, but from the will of God.”

[9:20] There was a four-hundred-year gap between the prophecies of the Old Testament and Jesus’ birth.  That is a long time.  Especially if you are waiting for a promised savior.  Don’t you imagine that the Jews were struggling with that promise?  They had been mistreated and in captivity.  Everything had been destroyed.  Yet, God had told them he would send them someone to save them.  I’m sure they were excited at first, but that probably wore off.  What do you think was remembered by the every day Jewish people?  Matthew reminds them of the promises of God.  By referring to Abraham and David he shows that God is faithful and that the promise has arrived.  

[18:23] There are also four women listed.  This is a big deal.  When were women ever acknowledged for their part in preserving the generations?  These four are not important just because they are female.  Two of them were foreigners; Rahab was a prostitute from Jericho, a Canaanite, and Ruth was a Moabitess, the Jews hated the Moabites.  Outsiders in the genealogy.  That is a strong statement.  The other two are in there because of adultery; Tamar and Bathsheba.  Not a great impression, really.  But who did Jesus come to save?  Not only the Jews, but the whole world.  This list of folks weren’t all great, righteous people.  They all made mistakes.  Aren’t they perfect illustration of all of us?  

[23:00] Matthew does not tell us Mary’s side.  To get that you have to read Luke’s gospel.  My pastor, Shane Green, preached a sermon last December that covered the rest of chapter one, verses 18-25.  He made the point that this is when God breaks into the narrative and that when human possibilities have run out, look for God’s intervention.  He also pointed out that this story is less about the how and more about the why.  That’s interesting, isn’t it?  We indeed spend a lot of time talking about the virgin birth.  Rightfully so.  I mean, it’s miraculous.  That had never been done before and never has again.  It is a significant part of the story.  But it’s really not the most important part of the story.  The most important part is “he will save his people from their sins”.

We can’t lose Joseph in all of this.  I feel like he is often skimmed over.  We don’t know much about him, but the fact remains that he was chosen by God to be the earthly caregiver of part of himself.  That is no small task.  All we learn of him from this account is that he was a good man.  He as righteous and kind.  He was obedient. (Revisit an episode from December 2022: Friends of God: Joseph and Mary).

[27:07] Isaiah 7:14 is the part of the prophecy that is quoted here.  Flipping back over to that is a really interesting comparison.  

Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”  But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”  Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  Isaiah 7:10-14

It seems here that Ahaz is making a good choice.  He says he doesn’t need a sign from God.  It seems a respectable thing to say.  But we can’t miss that God was telling him to ask for a sign.  Perhaps Ahaz didn’t actually want to see what God was going to show him.  Maybe he didn’t really want to know.  Ignorance is bliss after all.  

Look at Joseph.  He didn’t ask for a sign.  He was reminded of what God had promised all those years ago and he believed.  He obeyed.  

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