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MATTHEW 1 (ESV)
Matthew’s purpose is to show that God has kept his ancient promises to Israel through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. The long-expected reign of heaven is now coming to earth, bringing the Jewish story to its climax. Matthew begins by highlighting that Jesus was the son of David, Israel’s most famous king, and the son of Abraham, Israel’s founding patriarch. Jesus is the true Israelite and God’s promised Messiah.
The Messiah is shown as reliving the story of Israel—going down into the Jordan River, facing temptation in the wilderness, gathering twelve disciples as twelve new tribes, ascending a mountain to deliver a new Torah, etc. The author highlights the idea of Jesus as a new Moses by collecting his teachings into five long speeches. These are marked off by some variation of the phrase “When Jesus had finished saying these things”. Just as the Torah had five books, Matthew presents five major sections.
The book concludes by telling how Jesus brought about the great new act of redemption for his people. As in the story of Israel’s Exodus, a Passover meal is celebrated and then deliverance comes. Jesus gives his life for the sake of the world and is then raised from the dead. At the beginning of the book, Jesus is given the name Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” At the end, Jesus sends his followers into the world with the promise that surely I am with you always.
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…..
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
- Matthew invites us to look beyond the scenes of history’s most crucial birth. What he shows us is that Jesus had His origins in God’s eternal plan, and that the Babe of Bethlehem embodies that plan’s fulfillment. Jesus’ genealogy established His descent from Abraham and David. His virgin birth fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy.
- Joseph is a righteous man, faithful to God’s law (v19). Even though he may think Mary had treated him badly, he determined to treat her well. He feared that Mary would be subject to a public disgrace, and perhaps even stoning for immoral sexual activity. God directed Joseph through an angel in a dream. He obeyed and took Mary home as his wife.
- The angel quoted Isaiah 7:14 to tell Joseph “the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (v23). Joseph accepted the message of the angel that Mary (a virgin) was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. And Christians throughout the ages have accepted this message too. The name “Immanuel” is God announcing to the world that the Child conceived by the Holy Spirit is Himself God: God, come to be “with us”. The name “Jesus” means “deliverer” or “saviour”. It expresses the purpose of His coming. God became one of us in order to “save His people from their sin”.
- At what point in your life have you most felt Jesus’ presence? How have you experienced Jesus as “Immanuel” in your life lately?
Prayer & Journaling:
On your spiritual journal, as you listen to God, write down a few thoughts, questions, words, names, drawings, or anything that has come to your mind during this time.