Matthew 1

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is one of the leaders at St Mary's and is married to Pip.

Matthew 1

The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

4 Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,

7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,

Rehoboam the father of Abijah,

Abijah the father of Asa,

8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,

Jehoram the father of Uzziah,

9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,

Jotham the father of Ahaz,

Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,

Amon the father of Josiah,

11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:

Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,

Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,

Abihud the father of Eliakim,

Eliakim the father of Azor,

14 Azor the father of Zadok,

Zadok the father of Akim,

Akim the father of Elihud,

15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,

Eleazar the father of Matthan,

Matthan the father of Jacob,

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

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

20 But 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. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Reflection

Have you ever noticed when you meet up with old friends that you retell old shared stories and experiences, but each person shares them slightly differently? They each have their own perspective on the event.

This is what the four gospels are a bit like. Each writer tells the story of Jesus with their distinctive style that reveals Jesus in varied ways.

When reading Matthew there are a number of things to look out for:

1. The fulfilment of scripture. Matthew is always linking what Jesus is doing to the story of the people of Israel. It's not always clear to us, but if you're reading in a Bible there are footnotes that help you cross reference and to see what Matthew (or Jesus) is alluding to.
2. Teaching. Matthew includes much more teaching than the other gospels. The Sermon on the Mount being the most obvious. While this links with the Jewish background (Moses on the mountain receiving the law/Jesus on the mount explaining this teaching: "You have heard it said, but I say to you...") This is also worth our attention because Matthew wants his readers to know that those who find their life and identity in Jesus are part of a community that live like their king.
3. New identity. The scholar Michael Card believes that Matthew's gospel was written into a time when the new Judeo-Christians were trying to work out some very important questions: Who is Jesus? Who are we? For the Jewish audience it was important to know - is Jesus the Messiah, and what kind? They needed to know he was greater than any priest, prophet, or king they had ever known. But also who are they? As the early church emerged and gentiles were responding to the apostles announcement about Jesus, what started as a Jewish-sect now needed to frame what being a follower of Jesus involved - not adherence to the law or a bloodline (what previously had been the marker), but now the mark of this community would be belief in a Messiah who died and rose from death, and in its radical obedience to his commands.

This introductory family tree is easy to overlook, but it reveals important information for the first hearers of the gospel and to us today.

Matthew leads his readers all the way back to David from whose line the Messiah was expected to come (2 Samuel 7), but then even further to Abraham - the Father of the faith. Jesus' roots are found deeply in the Jewish history. He comes to fulfil the promises given to those who came before him.

His genealogy also includes some rather unlikely people too. Rahab was a prostitute. Ruth was a moabite (the mortal enemies of the Jews). Women wouldn't normally be included in ancient lists like this. This new community centred on Jesus will welcome and include everyone. Those who were considered enemies, would become siblings.

This would have been a surprise to the first readers. They had been taught one thing. But as we'll see, Jesus comes saying: You have heard it said, but I say unto you.

God our Father,
As we begin to read Matthew's account of your son, Jesus' life, may we open ourselves to the new thing you are doing, may we be surprised and astonished again at your capacity to welcome and include everyone. Holy Spirit breathe on us today, and help us to follow in Jesus' ways.
We ask this in your name,
Amen.  

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