Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 1

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Continuing on in my Getting to Know Jesus blogs, I have decided to go through the book of Matthew in an orderly fashion so that I can gain a better understanding of what this whole book is about. I have chosen Matthew because it flows right from the Old Testament into the New Testament and because I just like it. So I will be remaining in Matthew for the next little while. I am excited to study the life and characteristics of Jesus in this gospel while trying to ascertain what the author is actually trying to say. Let us read carefully, place ourselves in the culture and mindset of 1st century Jews who had just witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus, and consider how this gospel is meant to make Jesus known.

Right out of the gate, Matthew’s gospel begins with an extensive genealogy.

It may be easy to skip over this as superfluous information or to regard it just as boring, but this genealogy is included here by the author for a reason. I’ve been learning in class that every part of a story included by the author is there for a purpose and so we must account for all the parts. Particularly, Matthew’s gospel traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Abraham…not to Adam. This is very significant because Abraham was the father of God’s holy nation, Israel. This is the nation that God chose to set apart for Himself, through whom all other nations would be blessed as indicated in Genesis 12:1-3. So the author wants the reader to notice that Jesus comes from God’s holy people.

This gospel also traces back Jesus’ genealogy through King David. In doing so, Matthew wants the reader to be fully aware of Jesus’ royal ancestry so that when Jesus starts to be called the son of God and the son of David in this gospel, we will understand just what it means: that He is the Messiah that Israel has been waiting for. The coming king who was promised to deliver this holy nation, Israel.

The author can’t make it more clear than this. Jesus is a Jew. He is a son of Abraham. A son of David. Of royal ancestry. And He is the Messiah. The son of promise that has been anticipated since God declared His coming right after the fall in Genesis 3:15. Jesus is the son of promise who has come to crush Satan once and for all. And sin. And death. Jesus will fix it all.

Written to a Jewish audience who would have been anticipating the Messiah and very familiar with Old Testament passages prophesying about this, Matthew aims to point to Jesus as the one who has fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies. Since Matthew is situated as the first book of the New Testament, it perfectly positions this gospel as the link to the Old Testament… indicating that Jesus is indeed the link.

So now, in Matthew 1 we see that all attention shifts to Jesus in the Biblical narrative…the one who the world has been waiting for to defeat sin and death.

Matthew writes with this purpose of connecting the anticipation of the Messiah with the arrival of Christ, with the hope that 1st century Jews would grasp this and believe that Jesus was who He said He was. Therefore, Matthew’s gospel is not just an isolated book about Jesus. It is a piece in the grander story of the whole Bible. I’ve been learning at seminary just how significant it is to understand the Bible as one story so that the rest of the Bible can make sense, so I want us to read Matthew in light of its position in the whole Bible. It situates itself as the link between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and it is revealing the one who is finally coming on the scene to fix humanity’s problem. Jesus is the main focus in this gospel. He is the point of the story.

As we progress through this gospel, let us focus on the central theme of what Matthew is hoping to accomplish in and through his work: to make known the person and purpose of Jesus Christ so that we might believe in Him through faith and choose to become His own.

May we get to know Jesus in this gospel and gain a greater understanding of who He is in the grander biblical narrative. I pray that we will allow God to open our hearts and minds to understand the scriptures. I pray that we will read carefully. I pray that we will appreciate it for what it says. And I pray that we will fall more in love with the One who it all points to: our Jesus. The Messiah. The Promised One. The Facilitator of our Faith. Our hope.

Summary of Matthew 1

The genealogy of Jesus Christ is listed, from Abraham all the way to Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary; the generations listed in His genealogy are 42 generations, which are separated into three sections of 14 generations, a numerical pattern employed by Matthew which could have been a personal preference, a literary style or a memorization device; the time and occasion of Jesus’ birth is mentioned; Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary, an unwed girl engaged to Joseph; an angel appears to Joseph to tell him not to divorce Mary because her pregnancy is a result of the Holy Spirit, not of unfaithfulness; the author cites an Old Testament passage from Isaiah 7:14 saying that this is now being fulfilled; Joseph agrees to marry her and refrains from intimacy with her until after Jesus is born.

Jesus in Matthew 1

Jesus is who this book is about (v. 1)

Jesus’ genealogy is listed (v. 1-17)

Jesus’ genealogy matters in the story (v. 1)

Jesus is the son of David (v. 1)

Jesus is the son of Abraham (v. 1)

Jesus’ ancestors traced back from Abraham to David are listed (v. 2-6)

Jesus’ ancestors traced back from David to Jechoniah, at the deportation to Babylon are listed (v. 7-11)

Jesus’ ancestors traced back from Jechoniah to Joseph, the husband of Mary are listed (v. 12-16)

Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham to David were 14 generations (v. 17)

Jesus’ genealogy from David to the deportation to Babylon were 14 generations (v. 17)

Jesus’ genealogy from the deportation to Babylon to his birth were 14 generations (v. 17)

Jesus’ ancestry back to Abraham includes 42 generations (v. 17)

Jesus’ genealogy is written by Matthew in a numerical pattern (v. 17)

Jesus was born as a baby (v. 18)

Jesus was born to an already engaged woman (v. 18)

Jesus was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit (v. 18)

Jesus’ father had planned to divorce Mary quietly when he heard of her pregnancy (v. 19)

Jesus’ father took time to consider these things (v. 20)

Jesus’ father was then met by an angel of the Lord (v. 20)

Jesus’ father was calmed by the angel (v. 20)

Jesus’ father was told by the angel that Mary’s pregnancy was by the Holy Spirit and would give birth to the Savior (v. 20-21)

Jesus’ name was given by the angel to Joseph (v. 21)

Jesus will save His people from their sins (v. 21)

Jesus’ conception and birth fulfilled the scriptures (v. 21-22)

Jesus was born to a virgin (v. 23)

Jesus will be called Immanuel (v. 23)

Jesus’ father was obedient to the angel’s command and marries her (v. 24)

Jesus is named (v. 25)

“She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” -Matthew 1:21-

Questions for Today:

  • Why is Matthew writing this gospel?
  • What’s the point of the genealogy listed in verses 1-17?
  • Why is it significant that Jesus’ genealogy is traced back to Abraham and not Adam?
  • How does the gospel of Matthew fit into the larger story of the Bible?
  • How am I learning more about Jesus in Matthew chapter 1?

“How Majestic” by Kari Jobe

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