Matthew began his story by recounting selected events surrounding Jesus’ birth (about 4-6 B.C.). The genealogy establishes Jesus’ ancestry by which He was a legitimate descendant of David and rightful candidate for the messianic throne. The rest of Matthew’s infancy narrative is comprised from five quotations from the Old Testament and the stories that illustrate how those texts were fulfilled in Jesus.
In one instance we read of the rather straightforward accomplishment of certain events previously predicted, namely, the Messiah’s birthplace in Bethlehem. In two instances, texts that were not prophecies at all in the Old Testament are typologically reapplied to events surrounding Christ’s birth. Typology is the perception of recurring patterns of action in salvation-history that are too coincidental to be attributed to any cause but God. Examples are that the Messiah, like the Israelites of old, was brought out of Egypt and that the mothers in the vicinity of Bethlehem again bewailed the loss of their children.
In one instance Matthew quoted a text that does not even appear in the Old Testament, but probably he had a more general theme in view. In the most famous case, he cited the prophecy about a child to be born to a virgin. This probably combines direct prediction-fulfillment with typology. Isaiah originally had a young woman of his day in view, but the prophesy was not exhaustively fulfilled in her or her child. This left Jews to believe that a great, more complete fulfillment still awaited them.
Two other themes emerge in the opening two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. First, Christ would be for all the nations even as He excluded many from His own people who refused to welcome Him. Even before He grew up, the Messiah was clearly not just another Jewish nationalist. His genealogy indicates five women, all of whom were shrouded, rightly or wrongly, in the suspicions of having given birth to illegitimate children.
The Gentile magi who came to worship the Christ child are most likely Persian astrologers. They responded properly, however, to God’s revelation to them, whereas the political and religious authorities of Jerusalem did not.
Second, Herod figures directly or indirectly in every passage of Chapter 2. Matthew contrasted the one who is truly the King of the Jews by birth with the one who actually rules but turns out to be a temporary intruder.
Columbia Prayer Chain: Friday, February 8
In our prayers: Claudia Strattman, Jennifer Williams, Betty Jo Carson, Gary Davis, Eddie Bolton, Myrna, Esther, Pam James, Doug and Sharon, John Kelchner, Elizabeth Matthews, Nedrick Griffin, Jennifer Handy, Nancy Stuckey, Annemarie Sullivan, Rachel and Randy Wurtzbaugh, Patty Peckham, Denise Byrd, Greg and Lisa Steele, Dean Timothy Jones, Linda Langford, Marty Fritz, Harriet Hancock, Tommy and Robby Palmer, Patty and Ted Mac Laughlin, Janet Long, Bobby Wilson, Debbie and Pat Barry, Betty Jo Sullivan, Patrick and Patricia Barry, Jordan Hill, Doris Clevenger, Charles Sigel, Bob Davis, John Whatley, Nancy Zuckerman, Charles Davis Sr., Bill Carter, Betty Peavy Frick, Joye Cantrell, Fred and Gail, Dale and Norma Sessions, Padge Arrington, Jerry Callahan, Norman Masters
Special prayers for Mary Ellen’s four-year-old grandson, Joseph Patrick, who is fighting cancer
In memoriam: Joy Marie Sitton, Abraham “Ham” Robinson, Forrest Alan Watson, Donald Floyd Walters, Harold “Mike” Young, Charles Thomas Fitts Sr., Edward Clarence Moon Jr., Kirk Douglas Coleman, Oliver C. Ballington Sr., Kizzie S. Boykin, Moses N. Dreher Sr., Cynthia Ann Askew Harrison, Augusta Cothran Fulmer, Delphine Jeffrey, Lon Lee Stone
Our prayers are with: the elderly, the homeless, all currently fighting illness, all beloved pets, our president and congress, our police officers and firefighters, all who serve in the armed forces
Columbia Prayer Chain is open to all residents of greater Columbia who would like to share prayers and receive the prayers of others. Please leave your name in the comment box or email me.