In the Beginning…

Yay!! We are in the New Testament in the 3-Year Bible Reading Plan at St. Philip’s! Aside from the Psalms and Proverbs, the Old Testament books are behind us for a while!

And to think the New Testament opens up with a book written by that dirty, lo-down, rascally tax collector, Matthew. At least that is what he was before Jesus got ahold of him!

While we read through Matthew it would be good to notice how often he refers to the Old Testament, whether by outright quoting, or simply alluding to it. He seems to be concerned about the transition from Old Testament Judaism and it’s prophecies, to the New Testament Christ and His fulfillments!

And the first verse is a great example of the prophecy/fulfillment idea! Jesus is the prophesied Son of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16), the promised Seed of Abraham by Whom all the nations will be blessed (Genesis 12:3).

In this legal lineage of Jesus which goes through Joseph, Matthew records five women, a rather unusual event for a Jewish recorder.

Women were rarely mentioned in ancient genealogies, and the five mentioned here are worthy of special note as examples of God’s grace. They show how God can take unlikely people and use them in great ways.They are

Tamara: She sold herself as a prostitute to her father in-law Judah to bring forth Perez and Zerah. (Genesis 38)

Rahab: She was a Gentile prostitute, for whom God took extraordinary measures to save from judgment and her lifestyle of prostitution. (Joshua 2)

Ruth: She was a widow from enemy territory, Moab, a Gentile. (Book of Ruth)

Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife): was an adulteress, infamous for her sin with David. (2 Samuel 11)

Mary: was just an innocent young woman (teenager) of whom it was rumored had become pregnant from a Roman soldier. But yet even with these suspicions (John 8:19, 41), she bore the Son of God who was conceived by the Holy Spirit. This is no greater wonder than the creation of the world by the Holy Spirit. There is no need to choke on this first recorded miracle in the New Testament.

The rest of Matthew 1 is Joseph’s chapter. He could have had her stoned according to Jewish law, but he graciously and quietly was just going to cut off the betrothal. He already seemed to know of a higher law called love!

He has the open heart and ears to hear and discern the voice of an angel. I may have just taken some Tylenol PM and try to get past my wild dreams and hallucinations! After all, nobody had ever referred to him as Joseph, son of David before!

The fact that the angel had to share the news about the Holy Spirit conceiving the Child inside of Mary makes me wonder if Mary hadn’t told him it was God’s child for fear of being thought insane. Or if she had told him, and he did think her insane!

Jesus, Jehovah Saves!

Jesus meets us in our sin, but His purpose is to save us from them.

  • First from the penalty of sin,
  • then from the power of sin, and
  • finally from the presence of sin.

Immanuel, God with us!

This title of Jesus refers to both His deity (God with us) and His identification and nearness to man (God with us).

1:22-23 gives us the first usage of Matthew’s mantra that it might be fulfilled!

What a man of integrity, openness, graciousness and temperance. The words did not know her till imply that Joseph and Mary had normal marital relations after Jesus’ birth.

Jesus had four brothers whose names were James, Joseph, Simon and Jude.

Matthew 12:46; 13:55; Luke 8:19; Mark 3:31; John 7:1-10; Acts 1:14; Galatians 1:19

He also had sisters, but they are not named or numbered (Matthew 13:56).

Lord Jesus, Promised One, Who delivers from sin and its power, I pray that You will be with us in a special way as St. Philip’s undertakes this outreach campaign in the Bright Zone. I pray especially for the Babbilis, Birds, Brinkmans, Goforths, Harrisons, Harringtons, Lundes, MG, and the Wintons.

Lord, let them experience the same creatorial work by the Holy Spirit in their lives as was demonstrated in creation and in Mary. May they bear forth good fruit that has its roots in heaven. Fruit not of this world. Fruit that will make a difference in their lives, that will sustain them through even economic recessions and spiritual confusion.

Thank You Lord, that You did, and can, use people with checkered pasts and reputations. That somehow You brought forth clean (Jesus) from the unclean (prostitute, deceiver, foreigner, adulteress, etc). I pray that You will use St. Philip’s to bring forth spiritual holiness in our neighborhood! In Your name, Jesus, Immanuel, I pray, Amen!

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