January 1, 2020: Matthew 1

January 1, 2020: Matthew 1

What my NIV notes say about Matthew: Most likely written by Matthew (Levi), the tax collector and disciple of Jesus, somewhere between 15-40 years after the Resurrection (how they got these dates I don’t know).

Nabeel Qureshi, Christian apologist and former Muslim, on the first time he opened the Bible for guidance: “I went to Matthew Chapter 1. The first thing I saw was a bunch of genealogies, so I skipped ’em! Don’t judge me, Christians, I had an excuse!”

I don’t have an excuse and have come to believe that every word in the Bible is there for a reason, so I did read the genealogy. My favorite is “Ram the father of Amminidab.” That just sounds great. Wonder what their story was.

What I take from the genealogy:

1) It is demonstrating the undeniability of Jesus’ Jewish ancestry.

2) Jesus is a descendant of David, from the kingly line through Solomon. That would make him a rightful king of Judah, so why is Herod–an Edomite–on the throne? (Side note: I wonder how many other descendants of David were alive at that time? Just curious. David and Solomon both had like a gazillion kids each).

3) Women are mentioned in this genealogy, unusual since women in Jesus’ time were regarded about the same as women in strict Shariah-ruled Islamic countries are today. We see Tamar, who tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her, Rahab the prostitute, Bathsheba the adulteress (although she is only mentioned as the wife of Uriah), and, of course, Mary.

4) Comparing Matthew and Luke (Spoiler Alert! They’re not the same.) I’ve read from different sources that scholars generally agree that one genealogy traces Jesus’ line through Joseph, and the other through Mary. Matthew traces the Davidic line through Solomon while Luke traces it through Nathan. Both were sons of Bathsheba, not one of David’s other wives.

Now we get on to the story — Mary is already expecting by the Holy Spirit. Engaged but not yet married to Joseph. He finds out she’s pregnant. We aren’t told his personal feelings on the matter but we do know he isn’t about to go through with marriage to a girl he now considers an adulteress. But he’s a decent fellow and doesn’t want her exposed to “public disgrace” (i.e., stoned to death), so plans to divorce her quietly.

Then an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, gives him the scoop, then assigns him the task (privilege?) of naming the baby. …”you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save the people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21).  “Jesus” is the anglicized Greek form of the Hebrew “Yeshua,” which means “Salvation.”

Matthew is all about showing how Jesus fulfilled OT Messianic prophecy, and here is the first one: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’– which means, ‘God with us.’ “  (Mt 1:22-23, referring back to Isaiah 7:14)

So what do I take from this? Matthew is establishing the basis the rest of his book will be built on — Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, and Jesus is God.

Not a bad way to start out the New Year.

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