Scripture reading – Matthew 1, Luke 2

Our study of the Gospels brings us to Matthew 1 and Luke 2. Having introduced the Gospel of Luke, I will briefly to do the same as we consider “The Gospel According to Matthew” Written by the disciple whose name it bears, Matthew was also known as Levi in the Scriptures (Luke 5:27-32; Mark 2:13-17). He was Jewish by birth, and before he became a disciple, was a “publican” (i.e., a tax collector) by trade (Matthew 9:9-13; 10:3).

Similar to Luke’s Gospel, Matthew’s record is a history of the conception, virgin birth, life, and earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Some might find the first 17 verses of Matthew’s Gospel to be a tedious reading, and perhaps, insignificant. Yet, I assure you the genealogy of Jesus Christ is essential in making the case for His rightful claim to the throne of David.

Matthew 1 – The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

The human ancestry of Jesus Christ, beginning with Abraham (1:2), through “David the king” (1:6), culminates with “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (1:16). Matthew did not state Joseph begat Jesus, but rather, he was the “husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus” (1:16).

Luke chronicled Mary’s lineage and stated Jesus “was [legally] supposed the son of Joseph” (Luke 3:23). Matthew staked Christ’s claim as heir to the throne of David, through the lineage of Joseph, his adopted earthly father (1:16-17), which is also clearly stated in Genesis 3:15 referencing enmity shall be between the serpent and the woman’sseed – not the seed of man. The opening verses of Matthew’s Gospel give proof that Jesus was the legitimate heir to the throne of David, through His unique lineage.

Five Illustrations of God’s Abundant Grace (1:1-18)

Among the 42 generations of men named in the lineage of Christ, were the names of five women whose testimonies were arguably scandalous, if not infamous. Yet, all five of the women stand out as testimonies of God’s grace [i.e., unmerited favor]. The first was Thamar [Tamar] (1:3; Genesis 38), who played a harlot and bore two sons to Judah, and established the royal lineage of Israel. Rahab (1:5) was a prostitute of the city of Jericho, and hid Israel’s spies in her home (Joshua 2:1-21; 6:22-25). There was also Ruth (1:5), identified as a Moabitess (Genesis 19:37), and thus a descendant of Lot’s incest with his eldest daughter (Deuteronomy 7:3; 23:3). Bathsheba (1:6), though not named, was identified as “her that had been the wife of Urias.” She committed adultery with King David, and would later bear him a son named Solomon. The fifth portrait of grace was Mary(1:18), who was a virtuous, but humble girl of Nazareth (Luke 1:26-37). She was chosen by God to be the virgin mother of Jesus, His only begotten son.

Out of all the women of the world, Mary was chosen to be the virgin mother of God’s Son (1:18), and Joseph was chosen to be the protector and provider for Mary and her son Jesus (1:18-25). We know little of Joseph beyond his loving care for Mary and her son. Yet, his deliberations when he found Mary bearing a child “before they came together” (1:18) revealed him to be a “just man” of royal lineage (1:19). Joseph was also a man of faith, who believed God (1:20-23), and took Mary to be his wife, “25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” (1:25).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Luke 2 – The Angelic Birth Announcement of Jesus, the King of kings

Historical Setting (2:1-14)

The conception and birth of Jesus is one of the greatest events in human history. Rome ruled the world in Christ’s day, and the occasion of a formal census and taxation (2:1-2) gave cause for Joseph and Mary to journey to Bethlehem (2:3-5; Micah 5:2). The humble state of Christ’s birth was summed up with a simple declaration: Mary “brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (2:7).

Foretold by the prophet Isaiah 700 years before Jesus was born (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6), His birth was celebrated by a host (army) of angels, yet, went unnoticed with the exception of lowly shepherds tending sheep on the hillsides about Bethlehem (2:8).

Reflecting the shekinah glory of the LORD upon the shepherds (2:9), one angel announced, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (2:10-11). Suddenly, with a joy beyond human comprehension, “a multitude of the heavenly host [began] praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men” (2:14).

Closing thoughts (2:15-52) – The remainder of events in Luke 2 could fill days of devotionals, but time and space are not my luxury (perhaps another year). The balance of our text gives us the response of the shepherds to the birth of Christ for they believed, worshipped, and told all who would listen the things they had heard and seen (2:15-18). Mary, like the loving mother she was, “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (2:19).

Notice with me the record of the prophesies of Simeon and Anna (2:25-38), when Joseph and Mary presented Jesus at the Temple to be circumcised (2:21-25). The elder Simeon, taking Jesus up into his arms, prophesied to Mary, “a sword shall pierce through thy own soul” (Luke 2:35).

I believe those words haunted Mary’s thoughts throughout the years as Jesus grew from a child to becoming a man. As she stood at the foot of the Cross, I wonder, did Mary remember Simeon’s prophecy? Surely, her soul was pierced with the sorrows only a mother might know as she watched her Son bear the scorn and curse for the sins of the world.

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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