The Gospel according to Matthew was written by Matthew, who was a Jew by birth, and he was a tax collector for the Romans who ruled Israel at the time as an occupying force. So he would not have been looked upon with favor by his fellow Jews.
When Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, he didn’t hesitate. He was working at his post collecting taxes from the Jews for the Roman government, and he just got up and left.
Matthew was one of the 12 disciples who were to become the 12 apostles. His background was valuable for one who would be charged with spreading the message of the Gospel, since he was probably fluent in not only his native Hebrew, but also Greek and Aramaic. The Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Greek.
Chapter one begins with the genealogy of Jesus, and if you have been listening to the LSFAB for a while, many of the names in this genealogy will be familiar to you. Some highlights are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (of course); Judah (you may have heard Jesus referred to as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”); Amminadab; Boaz and Ruth; Jesse and his son David, who slew Goliath, became King, murdered Uriah after Bathsheba and he had illicit sex and she became pregnant; their son Solomon; Abijah; Jehoshaphat (whom we read about in the last episode); and then skipping many generations, we come to Mary and Joseph.
As we continue reading through the OT, more of the names in Jesus’ genealogy will become familiar to you. I used to think that this was just a long list of boring names, but the more we learn of these men, the more interesting the list becomes.
After the genealogy, Matthew tells us the account of the birth of Jesus. The betrothal of Joseph and Mary. That Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, how Joseph wanted to break off the marriage agreement when he learned that she was pregnant, etc.
What a special family God the father chose to raise the Messiah in. Think about this. At this point in human history, God had been silent for 400 years. Many Jews were Jewish in name only. A bit like today, in fact. Sure, they went to temple but they didn’t have a true faith in God. They lived their lives by the Law of God, not the love of God.
But this man, Joseph was a godly man, and a compassionate man. When he learned that his fiance was pregnant, he could have had her stoned to death. At the very least he could have disgraced her publicly. But an angel of God appeared to him in a dream and told him that the baby Mary carried was by God the Holy Spirit. And when he awoke, he did what the angel told him to do. He married Mary.
He could have chalked the dream and the vision up to a bad meal the night before. But this was a man of faith. This was the perfect man to be step father for the Messiah.
And the young girl Mary. We don’t know her exact age, but she was most likely a young teenager. But despite her youth, her faith and humility were astonishing. We aren’t told much about her here in Matthew, so I won’t spend any time talking about her here. We’ll do that when we get Luke’s Gospel.
But the point is, God waited until the perfect time in history to begin a new agreement, a new covenant, a new testament with humankind. And according to prophecy, it would come through the lineage of David. And this couple, Joseph and Mary, were both descendants of David. And they were humble and God loving. The perfect family for the Messiah to be born into.
As we begin the Christmas season, what perfect timing to read this chapter! God is good, isn’t He?
What do you think?