The Gospel of Matthew opens with a genealogy— an important genealogy. A unique genealogy. A genealogy that demonstrates that Jesus is genealogically qualified to be the Messiah. Dispersed throughout the genealogy is historic commentary, which causes the reader familiar with the Old Testament to recall the some of the major historical events which led to the coming of the Messiah.
Beginning with Abraham, the genealogy traces the lineage of the Messiah through Joseph, the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born (Matthew 1:16). The genealogy contains the names of many prominent Old Testament men: Abraham, Judah, David, Solomon, and Hezekiah. The genealogy is also unique in that it contains the names of several women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.
Matthew starts the genealogy with Abraham and eventually arrives at Jesus Himself. From there, Matthew begins a short account of the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. Concerning the virgin birth, all that Matthew writes of Mary is that she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18). Choosing to leave out Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel (which Luke includes in Luke 1:26-38), Matthew instead focuses more on Joseph's dilemma.
Joseph was betrothed to Mary, soon to be married. All of a sudden, Mary was pregnant and Joseph had to decide what to do. Should he continue through with the marriage? Should he disgrace her? Should he put her away privately? When he was considering to put her away privately, an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him exactly what he should do— he should take Mary to be his wife and name the child Jesus. But the child that Mary would give birth to would not be an ordinary child. In fact, the child would do what God alone can do: save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
It is at this point that Matthew interrupts the narrative with a short comment. He writes that everything was happening according to what the prophet Isaiah had said. In mentioning this, Matthew further demonstrates Jesus to be the Messiah by showing Him to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
After Joseph awoke, he did as the angel commanded him in his dream. He was obedient to God and he took Mary to be his wife, despite her strange pregnancy. Matthew writes very little of the birth of Jesus, only stating that Mary gave birth to a Son (Matthew 1:25). This short account of the birth of Jesus sets the scene for an event which occurred a year or two after Jesus' birth: the visit of the magi (Matthew 2:1-12).
Outline of Matthew 1
Summary of Genesis 5
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