Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Matthew 1

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel', which means, 'God with us'."

~Matthew 1:22-23

The Gospel of Matthew begins with Jesus' genealogy. Philip Yancey's fantastic book The Jesus I Never Knew tells how King Herod ordered a genealogical survey for himself. Dissatisfied with the base social status of his ancestors, he destroyed the survey.

Matthew's genealogy is not so simple. He calls Jesus "the son of David, the son of Abraham", begins with Abraham, then traces down through the house of Judah and the royal Davidic line. But - after the Babylonian exile - the list consists of fathers and sons unknown to history. This Messiah would not be born in regal pomp. Instead, Matthew finishes with a humble carpenter named Joseph, the pivotal man of the chapter.

Joseph finds his fiancee, Mary, pregnant. Under Mosaic law, he could have had Mary (and the child) stoned to death. Instead, he decides to break the engagement - not much better, for Mary would have returned to her family with the stigma of an unplanned, unexplainable pregnancy. Malcolm Muggeridge, among others, has argued that a 2007 C.E. incarnation of Mary might have been coerced into an abortion.

At this critical point, God defends His own living integrity in Mary's womb. He sends an angel to Joseph, telling him about Mary's supernatural conception and his own mission as foster father to the Messiah. Joseph obediently "did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him" (v. 24).

Tonight's prayer: Joseph exposed himself to shame and ridicule for the sake of the woman he loved greatly and the God he loved still more. Let me not turn away from the narrow path because I may be put to worldly shame. You do not see as the world sees, and your spiritual rewards far surpass fleshly pleasures (v.25). Amen.

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