Read thru the New Testament-January 1

Matthew 1

Matthew (whose last name was “Levi”) was a Jewish tax collector (publican) for the Roman government.  Tax collectors were despised by the rest of the Jews because they collaborated with the Romans.  When Jesus called him to be one of His followers…he responded.  He held a banquet for his friends so that they might come and meet Jesus, as well (Luke 5:27-39).  The only other time he is mentioned in the Gospels is when he is included in the list of the Twelve Apostles (Matthew 10:3; see also Acts 1:13).  While it cannot be substantiated, tradition says that Matthew preached in Palestine for a dozen years after the resurrection of Christ and then went on to other lands, as well.  His Gospel is written to the Jews to answer their questions about Jesus and His claims to be the Messiah.  He often refers to Jesus as the “Son of God” and the One who fulfills the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah.  To support his arguments, Matthew used more quotations from the Old Testament than any of the other Gospel writers (93 in Matthew, 80 in Luke, 49 in Mark, and 33 in John).  The kingdom of Heaven is a frequent topic.  It is not certain when Matthew wrote…but most feel that it was sometime between 50-60 A.D.

Matt. 1:1-The name “Jesus” is from the Greek word for the Hebrew “Jeshua” (Joshua)…it means “the Lord is salvation”.  “Christ” is from the Greek word for the Hebrew “Meshiah” (Messiah)…and it means “anointed one”.

Matt. 1:2-17-The genealogy given here is traced through Joseph, Jesus’ legal (though not natural) father.  Being of the lineage of Joseph makes Him a descendant of David (1:6) and establishes His rightful claim to His throne.  Most people agree that the genealogy in Luke 3:23-28, is that of Mary.

Matt. 1:18,23-“she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit…that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”-It amazes me with what ease and simplicity Matthew declares that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  We make such a difficult issue of it…and yet, Matthew just states it as a matter of fact; or perhaps, as a matter faith.  Eventually, it became such a common, well-known fact among the followers of Jesus, that while they could not completely explain how it happened in terms of their own physical realm, knowledge, and experience…it was simply accepted as being so.  Matthew first stated the origin of Christ…then he stated the mission of Christ.  He tells us that these things had been previously revealed through prophecy.  The name “Jesus”, identified His mission…which was “to save His people from their sins”…and is the fulfillment of the prophet saying that His name would be “Immanuel…God with us”.  Matthew tells us that God came near…He entered our space, our realm, our lives…and suddenly we can know Him in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

Matthew 1:19-25-Imagine the derision and sarcasm that Joseph must have received over Mary being pregnant and him not being the father.  So little is said about him…but he must have been quite a godly man.  Notice that his concern for Mary’s reputation was stronger than his concern for his own…“being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly”.  This meant that he determined to help her discretely go through the process of childbirth without being married…instead of taking his legal rights to put her through a scandalous public divorce and possibly even having her stoned.  So much attention is given to Mary…but surely God had chosen Joseph, just as certainly.  He was obedient each time that God spoke to him.

Prayer: Lord, I can barely fathom that You…Almighty, Sovereign, Eternal, Omnipresent God…could became man.  Much less explain how You did it.  And yet, that reality is not dependent on me.  It is not necessary for me to understand it, in order for it to be so.  You are God…and all things are possible for You.  You have given me a brain, a mind that has incredible capacity.  But there are still some things that are simply beyond my comprehension.  At those times…don’t let my inabilities become false limitations that I impose on You.  Help me to accept by faith what I cannot attain through intelligence.  May I always be in wonder and awe of You!

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