A Moment with the Bible
Since Matthew writes to the Jews, it is only natural that he repeatedly refers to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. In fact, Matthew quotes or alludes to the Old Testament over 100 times. In chapter two, he makes four references to prophecy and its fulfillment in Christ.
One of the peculiarities of Matthew’s account is his reference to the Gentiles. We have already noticed in chapter one that there are three Gentile women included in Jesus’ genealogy. In this text, Matthew draws our attention to the contrast between Gentile and Jewish reactions at the news of the birth of Jesus. Though we would have expectedthe Jews to have been the first to accept the coming messiah, it is instead the Gentiles who have come to worship Him. However, the Jews (Herod and all Jerusalem), are “troubled.” Matthew will continue to emphasize this contrastthroughout his treatise.
It is notable to see that these Gentiles are “magi” from the east. How would they have known about the coming Christ? There are a number of possible explanations. When the Babylonian captivity began (605 B.C.), Daniel was one of the captives. He was part of the magi in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. His prophecies foretold of the comingkingdom that would rule over all the earth. Further, the Jews who were dispersed throughout this region would haveinfluenced the Gentiles around them. We would expect that these magi had the same messianic hope as their Jewish neighbors. If they had heard the reading of the law in the synagogues, they would have been exposed to other prophets such as Isaiah who would have given them a picture of a coming messiah. Finally, it is likely that the Lord communicated directly to these men and sent them on their journey.
We should also be impressed that the chief priests and scribes knew exactly where the “King” and “Messiah” would be born. Bethlehem was the original city of David, the place where Naomi and Ruth had their inheritance land. It would now be exalted as the birthplace of the messiah. Unfortunately, the scribes did not quote the last line of Micah 5:2, “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” The messiah would be God Himself!
A Moment with the Bible
Matthew does a masterful job of defending Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. By the time Matthew wrote his account there were many rumors going around about Jesus.One rumor was that He was “born of fornication"(Jn. 8:41) Jewish writings of that time indicate that many believed that Mary had an affair with a Jewish soldier named Panthera and was pregnant by him. Notice how Matthew disproves any such rumor.
We first see that Joseph was ready to divorce Mary secretly. Joseph believed what would seem to be the obvious. He knew he was not the father, therefore the only possibility could be that Mary had been with someone else. But as Joseph contemplates this, an angel appears to him and convinces him that Mary was indeed a virgin. The angel backs up his assertion with scripture (Isa. 7:14). In other words, this was a planned event.
Now notice the response of Joseph. Joseph is so convinced that Mary is a virgin and that the words of the angel are true, that he takes Mary as his wife. No upstanding Jewish man would have taken a woman who had cheated on him during the engagement period. Further, Joseph respects the fact that she is with child by the Holy Spirit and does not have relations with her until Jesus is born, further proving that he was not the father. Notice also that he only refrained from sexual relations with her until Jesus was born, which implies that he started relations with her after Jesus’ birth. That he did so, proves all the more that he believed Mary to be pure.
Matthew 13:55 goes on to tell us that Mary had four other sons and at least two daughters (“sisters” to Jesus). The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary was a virgin all her life. The Bible obviously denies such a doctrine.
A Moment with the Bible
Matthew wrote to Jews in order to prove to them that Jesus is the Messiah and King over His kingdom. The Jewish scriptures (Old Testament) had foretold of a coming Messiah who would establish a new kingdom. Every faithful Jew looked for that day. But was Jesus of Nazareth the one? It is to this end that Matthew presents his book.
Today’s text is probably one of the least read texts in all of the New Testament. Why would we want to read this lengthy genealogy? To a Jew, this was an extremely important text. It proved that Jesus was in the proper lineage to qualify as the Messiah. He came from Abraham and thus qualified to be the “seed” through whom all nations would be blessed (Gen. 12:3), and He came through David qualifying Him to be the King over God’s spiritual kingdom (1 Sam. 7:8-17).
This genealogy has other exciting facts. If you read it, you will find four women listed: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth,and Bathsheba. This is very unusual. Jews did not put women in their genealogy! It has been said that a favorite prayer of some Jews was, “I thank God I am not a Gentile, a Samaritan, or a woman. But Jesus put women in His genealogy. All would be acceptable to Him equally.
Notice also that the women in this genealogy are not exactly prime examples of great women. Tamar pretended to be a harlot and became pregnant by her father-in-law (Gen. 38). Rahab’s occupation was a harlot (Joshua 2). Ruth descended from the incestuous relationship of Lot and his daughters (Gen. 19). Bathsheba committed adultery with king David (2 Sam. 11). Why would Jesus put such people in His genealogy? It sets the tone for the nature of Jesus’ ministry. He will accept all who will come to Him, repent of their past, and seek His forgiveness by obeying His will.
Finally, notice that there are 39 “begots” in this genealogy. But there is conspicuously absent a “begot” between Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Jesus. Thus, Matthew presents his first premise: Jesus did not come by natural birth and therefore was not an ordinary man. He fulfilled the first prophecy of the Bible (Gen. 3:15) thatthe Messiah would come from the “seed of woman,” not the seed of man and woman. He was God in the flesh.