Read Matthew 1
We begin with the 17th verse.
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.
Why is this important?
If you were a new believer in Corinth or Ephesus, it probably didn’t seem that important. If you were a Jew it should have forced you to make a decision as to whether Jesus was the Christ.
Here is his lineage from Abraham through David surviving the exile to Babylon and to the son who was born to Joseph and Mary.
Before you hear this gospel, know that it is a profile of the Christ—of the Messiah. It is not a biography. In fact most of this gospel only deals with the adult life of the Christ, but it includes enough of his birth and early years to confirm his is the One promised to come and save God’s Chosen People, and not only them, but to bring salvation to the world.
Unlike Luke’s gospel that we most often read for the Christmas Story, Matthew begins with Joseph’s dilemma.
He was a good man but his wife was pregnant and not by him. He could have made a big deal out of this. He could have outted her on Facebook, called her names, and kicked her to the curb.
But this was Mary, the woman he was engaged to and planned to love for the rest of his life. He would just divorce her quietly and get on with his life.
This surely had to be a painful time for Joseph, but the gospel regards him as a man in right standing with God and one in the line of King David.
And so a revelation comes to Joseph in a dream. The revelation comes via an angel in his dream.
“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. 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.”
In this short revelation we see:
· Joseph is from the royal line of David.
· This child is the work of God.
· His name will be Jesus. The people of this time would have known that his name much like that of Joshua means salvation in God, Jehovah’s salvation.
· If Joseph couldn’t figure it out by the name, the angel told him directly, this child will save his people from their sins.
The gospel writer next connects some dots for us. The first part is from Isaiah’s prophecy. The second is in Mary’s womb.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”).
Here is the amazing part. Joseph woke up, and though the scripture does come right out and say it, we must believe that he remembered this dream, this vision, because he took Mary to be his wife, though he had no sexual relations with her.
I have about 114 manuscripts that almost made it to consciousness. Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night and write down the story lines. If you think my handwriting is atrocious when I am awake, you should see it when I’m still mostly asleep.
But this vision that came to Joseph was surely compelling and did not pass with his awakening.
And so very early in his gospel, Matthew is prompting his listeners and readers to consider, is Jesus the Christ?
Here is the lineage.
Here is the Prophecy.
Here is the vision.
Here is the fulfillment.
Here is Jesus
Here is God with us.
Here is our salvation.
Do you want me to continue?
Are you ready to believe?
Though by our race and ethnicity most of us are not Jews; we have the gift of hindsight to see how important it was that the prophecy delivered to God’s Chosen People be fulfilled as prescribed.
Welcome to the Gospel of Matthew. There is more to follow.