Thursday, February 14, 2013

Matthew 1 - 3

The New Testament starts with the book of Matthew. The book of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. I was a religion minor in college, and my New Testament classes taught me that Matthew was a Jew, and his goal in writing his gospel was to evangelize to other members of the Jewish community. As such, Matthew's genealogy begins with Abraham, the father of the Hebrew faith (compare this to the account of Jesus' genealogy in Luke, which begins with Jesus and works forward).

The most interesting part of this account of Jesus' genealogy, to me, is the mention of a handful of women. Most of the genealogy lists fathers and sons, but scattered throughout are the names of women whose stories are found in the Old Testament:
  • Verse 3: Tamar, who pretended to be a prostitute and slept with her father-in-law Judah. She got pregnant from that encounter, and the child she bore, Perez, is thus part of Jesus' lineage. (See Genesis 38)
  • Verse 5: Rahab, who was a prostitute. Rahab lived in Jericho, and assisted Israelite spies in their efforts to take the city. Rahab and her family were spared in the subsequent battle, and Rahab eventually married an Israelite, and their son was Boaz. (See Joshua 2 and 6)
  • Verse 5: Ruth, who was a widow and a foreigner, who returned to Israel with her mother-in-law Naomi after the death of both women's husbands. Ruth gleaned in Boaz's field, and Boaz, as a family member of Naomi's late husband, became the family redeemer for Ruth and Naomi, saving them from poverty. Ruth & Boaz's son is in Jesus' lineage. (See the book of Ruth)
  • Verse 6: The wife of Uriah (Bathsheba) Bathsheba was married to Uriah, who was a soldier in King David's army. David saw Bathsheba bathing, and decided he wanted her for himself. David got Bathsheba pregnant, then brought Uriah back from the war in an attempt to pin the paternity on Bathsheba's husband. While Uriah was home from war, however, he refused to sleep with his wife since the war was still waging. Unable to out-fox Uriah, King David had him moved to the front lines of the war, where Uriah was killed. King David then married Bathsheba, and their first child died shortly after he was born. David and Bathsheba had more children, though, and one of those, Solomon, became the next King and is part of Jesus' lineage. (II Samuel 11 - 12)
  • Verse 16: Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was, after all, an unwed mother. 
What powerful stories of redemption! 

Chapter 2 tells the story of Jesus' birth, flight to Egypt and return to Nazareth. Throughout this narrative, Joseph is visited by angels in dreams no less than four times. Oh, to have the clarity Joseph did! Each time he had a dream, he obeyed the commands he was given. 

Source: via Carolien on Pinterest

Chapter 3 introduces us to John the Baptist for the first time. John preaches repentance and baptizes with water as a symbol of repentance from sin. John foretells the coming of Jesus, who will baptize with the spirit and with fire. And then Jesus himself comes to John for baptism! John argues (which I can appreciate - I feel like I argue with Jesus A LOT), but Jesus insists, to "fulfill all righteousness." When Jesus comes up from the water, the announcement is made: "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased." 

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