For an introduction to this series, click here.
Dec. 4, 2006
Well, I had some trouble posting Thursday night. I don't know what happened. Anyway, I was back home for the weekend, so no internet. Starting with this post, I'm going to go chapter by chapter through the New Testament. And the most logical place to start would be Matthew 1.
Matthew starts with a genealogy (that's a weird word to spell) that begins with Abraham and ends with Jesus. As we will discuss in a number of places in this book, Matthew was written primarily to a Jewish audience. In a sense all the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) were written for specific audiences, but Matthew is more Jewish than Mark is Roman or Luke is Greek. Genealogy was (and still is) very important to Jews. Their family was their identity, much more so than to Americans today. How ironic it is that a man who was probably rejected by most of his (Jewish) family and friends would write a gospel directed to the Jewish people. Before he met Jesus, Matthew was a publican, a tax collector who, in the mind of many of his countrymen, was collaborating with the enemy: Rome.
After the genealogy, Matthew recounts the birth of Jesus, mostly from the perspective of Joseph. As a Jewish man, Matthew would have probably identified with Joseph's predicament. Here he was about to marry this girl, and all of a sudden she comes up pregnant. No doubt heartbroken, Joseph is prepared to just drop the whole thing. By Moses' law, he could have dragged her out to be stoned, but Joseph was a "just man." It's hard to imagine what was going through his mind when the angel came to him, but it is clear that he believed the angel and even took Mary home before she gave birth. They did not have sex before she gave birth, but apparently she did start to live with him. Maybe her parents didn't understand and threw her out of the house. We do know from Luke's gospel that Mary went to live with her cousin for a few months. It is possible that she moved straight from Elizabeth and Zechariah's house to Joseph's.
We get the story of the wise men in Chapter 2. We'll see you tomorrow night.