A Moment with the Bible
This text is one of the most misused in the Bible. It is said that Jesus is forbidding His disciples from ever correcting a person who is in error or who has a sin in his life. If this interpretation is true, then Jesus repeatedly violated His own rule and the apostles were equally bad offenders. Even in this text (vs. 5), Jesus commanded that we remove a speck from a brother’s eye once the log has been removed from our own eye. In verse 6, Jesus warned against giving that which is holy to dogs or pearls to swine. In order to obey that command, we must judge as to whether a person falls into the category of a hog or a dog. In John 7:24, Jesus commanded His disciples to “judge righteous judgment” but not to “judge according to appearance.”
What then is the meaning of Jesus’ words? Jesus is warning against harsh, nitpicking, speck-finding judgment. Imagine the lack of care that would be taken by a person trying to remove a speck while a log was in his own eye. Those who are always trying to examine every detail of another person’s life are not spending adequate time looking into their own lives. Only the person who is acutely aware of his own shortcomings and who diligently works to correct his sins, is qualified to help a brother with his faults. Thus, Jesus is warning against hypocritical judgment. Some pick on the tiniest flaw in another, but disregard major issues in themselves. Such judgmental people will end up getting the same kind of treatment in return, both in this life and the one to come.
But who might be a “hog” and a “dog?” These are people who show no regard for that which is holy and good. We cannot determine this until we have actually presented the gospel to a person. When their reaction is to despise what has been offered, go to others and leave these alone. Further efforts with people like this will only end violence and trouble.
A Moment with the Bible
The fourth reference to prophecy in chapter two is unusual because there is no direct quote. Instead, Matthew says that Jesus dwelt in Nazareth “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets....” Matthew does not refer to any one prophecy but tells us that this was something of which many prophets spoke. Is there a specific prophecy that refers to Jesus as a “Nazarene?” No, but that does not mean we cannot understand Matthew’s reference.
In the first place, one from Nazareth was considered a “nobody.” In John 1:46, Nathaniel said to Philip, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Thus, it is interesting that Jesus was not known as a “Bethlehemite,” which would have connected Him with David and a messianic lineage. He is known as a Nazarene and therefore as Isaiah said, “despised and rejected” (Isa. 53:3).
Some also suggest that the background of the word “Nazarene” comes from the Hebrew “netzer,” meaning “sprout.” It is the idea of a tree being cut down and left for dead. But at some point a green sprout comes up where the tree once was. It seems to be of no use and such a sprout is despised. But this is exactly how both Isaiah and Zechariah referred to the coming messiah: “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isa. 11:1). "Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: "Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD” (Zech. 6:12).
Possibly there is even another picture that can be suggested. Nazareth was a city off the main highways. Important people did not go there; they stayed on the big roads going to their personal destinations. But for those who are looking for a hope beyond the pursuits of this world, that hope is found in this rejected city. There we can find the Nazarene, the sprout of hope when all else seems to be lost. There the despised and rejected will go to find One who lighten their burdens and give them a yoke that is easy (Mt. 11:29-30). “He shall be called a Nazarene,” but God exalted Him above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:20-22).
A Moment with the Bible
The third fulfillment of prophecy in this chapter comes from Jeremiah 31:15. The context in Jeremiah is the promise that God would restore both the Northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of Judah from their captivities in Assyria and Babylon. Rachel, the second wife of Jacob, had two children, Joseph and Benjamin. From Joseph came the two principle tribes of northern Israel – Ephraim and Manasseh. These, along with the rest of the Northern Kingdom had gone into Assyrian captivity in 722 B.C. From this came the picture of “Rachel weeping for her children....because they are no more.”
But the full story comes from the verses following Jeremiah 31:15. Verses 16 and 17 state, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for your work will be rewarded,’ declares the Lord, ‘and they will return from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future,’ declares the Lord, ‘And your children will return to their own territory.’”
The point of the text is that even though Rachel had lost her children, God was going to restore her children to her in a new kingdom. Matthew’s quotation of Jeremiah is not intended to end on a sad note. Though Rachel had again lost her children, the purpose of Jeremiah’s prophecy was to connect a mourning nation to the hope of restoration. The prophecy of Jeremiah was about to be fulfilled. The Messiah had come and through Him God was going to dry the tearful eyes by building a new nation which no longer could be overthrown by her enemies.
Now notice what we have seen so far in Matthew two. The first prophecy announced the coming of the King (Micah 5:2). The second prophecy referred to this King leading an exodus out of Egypt. The third is of Rachel, the mother of those who were no longer considered the people of God, having her tears dried as her children are brought into the kingdom of the Messiah.
A Moment with the Bible
This section centers around the second prophecy of this chapter: “Out of Egypt I called My Son” (Hosea 11:1). In the text of Hosea, God was reminding Israel of His love for them and how He delivered them out of Egyptian bondage. In spite of His love, the nation had turned to idols committing spiritual harlotry. Based on numerous Old Testament prophecies, New Testament Jews were looking for a “second exodus” in which God would again deliver them from the oppression of Gentile nations like Rome. Inspired New Testament writers repeatedly show how Jesus is their new Deliverer. Therefore, Matthew makes use of the Hosea text to say that God is again calling His “Son” out of Egypt.
From the days of Israel’s deliverance, Egypt has been a symbol of oppression and slavery. This quotation signals that God is again calling His people out of bondage. All mankind has been captured by Satan through sin and are held hostage in this spiritual Egypt. When God sent His only Son to deliver them, He too was driven by Satan into Egypt through the wickedness of Herod. Now God would again call His Son out of Egypt. And as He called Jesus out of Egypt, He was also calling out a new nation, a new Israel.
When New Testament Jews thought of a messiah, they were looking for another deliverer like Moses, one who would lead them to again be a great nation. Matthew is presenting Jesus as the second Moses. As God calls Jesus out of Egypt, there is the implication that a whole nation will follow Him to the new Promised Land. But in this case, God was not offering an escape from a physical nation or a physical bondage. This new Deliverer leads every man and woman who trusts in Him out of the bondage of sin and the domination of the devil. This second deliverance would far surpass the first in that it would not be limited to the physical nation of Israel. All have sinned, and therefore all, whether Jew or Gentile, can follow Him out of Egypt.
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.