Matthew 1: God With Us

Today we return to the life of Jesus.  Jesus is the center of our religion and very life, so it is fitting to return to the gospels every quarter.  In fact, that would be a great rhythm for life long after this year.  As a former student of Chris Dahlberg’s likes to say, as we age maybe it becomes second nature to concentrate on the red words.

Matthew starts his gospel very differently from Mark.  Mark got right down to business; from beginning to end of his gospel Jesus was a very active adult.  Matthew, though, spends two chapters just getting Jesus to adulthood and ministry.  There is very little action in Matthew 1 at all.  Mark chose to keep us guessing about Jesus throughout much of his book.  Like his disciples in the gospel, we really had to work to get that Jesus was divine.

Matthew, on the other hand, makes everything very clear right from this first chapter;

“Look: the virgin is pregnant, and will have a son, and they shall give him the name Emmanuel” — which means, in translation, “God with us.” (1:23)

From the beginning we are introduced to Jesus as God Himself, come to be with us once again.  Remember that if a person were reading the Bible page by page, they have just flipped from Malachi, over 400 years of divine silence where God’s presence was much more hidden.  That is no longer the case.  God is with us again, but in a new, strange, embodied way.

And we are introduced to the gospel right off:

She is going to have a son.  You are to give him the name Jesus; he is the one who will save his people from their sins. (1:21)

God has come in the form of Jesus to save us from our greatest oppressor of all: sin.  Already, in the first chapter Matthew has made it clear what kind of Savior this Jesus is too.  We are off to a very straightforward beginning.

What did you notice in this chapter that you had not noticed before?

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Categories: Matthew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Matthew 1: God With Us

  1. Eddy Efaw

    “When Joseph woke up from his sleep he did what the Lord’s angel had told him to. He married his wife . . .” (v.24 KNT) Seems strange but I’ve never noticed before that the text says that after the angel spoke to Joseph that he got up and seemingly very soon afterwards, he married Mary. First off this is Joseph obeying. He DID what God said to do. Next he MARRIES her. The metaphor of marriage is strong throughout the Bible. Marriage keeps the line of Jesus going. Marriage is a key point in many OT stories. Marriage is the metaphor of our relationship with God. We are “the bride of Christ.” Lastly, it’s a marriage of faith. “Don’t be afraid to get married to Mary. The child she is carrying is from the holy spirit. She is going to have a son . . . . he is the one who will save his people from their sins.” (v21 KNT). First off we ALL get cold feet of some sort around the time we’re getting married. It’s a huge commitment so this is right and good. But if anyone of these things listed in v. 21 were true of the girl you’re going to marry, then you have just significantly lowered the temperature of the feet involved! What FAITH it took for Joseph to marry Mary. This echos the faith it will take for us to enter a covenant relationship with God.

    Here’s a video of Andrew Peterson signing a song that includes ALL of the names in Matthew’s begats. It’s pretty amazing!

  2. can someone explain why they say “the red letter that kills”

    • I am not familiar with the phrase “red letter that kills” and not much showed up in Google for that phrase either. Maybe you are referring to 2 Corinthians 3:6: He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. This would be the Mosaic Law. Paul is saying here as he says in so many other places that the Law by itself only made sin all the more possible and turned people into lawbreakers when they inevitably could not keep the Law. Thus they were guilty of sin and due the punishment of spiritual death. Hence, the letter of the Law kills. The Spirit on the other hand gives the power for holiness the Law by itself was not able to provide.

  3. Georgia Stafford

    I love the song from Andrew Peterson! Singing along with that tune would be the only way I could ever remember the genealogy of Christ. Thanks, Eddy, for sharing. 🙂

  4. Joseph was “chagrined but noble,” Peterson says. I love that combination. I am afraid I have found myself chagrined – angry, offended, hurt – a lot lately, but I am not so sure how noble I have been. This must have been the key to Joseph’s amazing response to his fiancee’s mysterious pregnancy (though the angel probably helped!). Noble people are kind and compassionate even when offended. That’s my goal.

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