We are so excited to jump into this year by planting the flag into 2023 and putting into action our desire to grow deeper in God’s word both personally and as a community. So, if you’re tuning into this first post, welcome to our year in the New Testament.
For those who I have not yet had the honor of meeting, my name is Casey Johnson. I am the Associate/Creative Pastor here at Heritage Church, and I have the privilege of being the first voice in our journey, which brings us to Matthew Chapter 1. So, before we get into our reflection on Matthew 1, let’s first unpack the book of Matthew.
In doing this, let’s look at a few foundations about Matthew.
First, The author! Who wrote the book of Matthew? Although the first Gospel is anonymous, the early church fathers were unanimous in understanding that Matthew, one of the 12 apostles, was its author. Matthew’s name means “gift of the Lord,” He was a tax collector who left his work to follow Jesus. In Mark and Luke, his called by his other name Levi.
Secondly, who is the audience? Who is Matthew writing to? The book of Matthew was primarily written with a target audience of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians. Matthew had a deep concern with the fulfillment of the Old Testament. In fact, Matthew has more quotations and allusions to the Old Testament than any other New Testament author. Now, this doesn’t mean that Matthew is restricted only to Jewish-speaking Christians; he also gives a full statement of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. These passages show that, although Matthew’s Gospel is directed to a Jewish audience, it has a universal outlook.
Third, let’s look at the purpose of the book. Matthew’s main goal is to confirm for his Jewish Christian readers that Jesus is their Messiah. Although all the Gospel writers quote the Old Testament, Matthew includes many proof texts to drive home his basic theme. And to drive his point even further, Matthew emphasizes Jesus’ Davidic lineage. So what’s the basic theme of Matthew? Matthew presents Jesus as the Jewish Messiah sent by God to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy.
Now, as we jump into Matthew chapter 1, if you’re like me, you’re tempted to skip verses 2-16; why? Because it’s nothing but names! This person was the father of this person, and that person was the father of that person. It seems irrelevant, right? Why in the world is this in there?
The genealogy of Jesus is there for a reason. Skipping it is missing essential information that Jesus was not just another baby. His birth was long prophesied. Matthew 1:1 starts the Gospels out with an important announcement. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Jesus’ birth fulfilled a prophecy that “all the nations of the earth” shall be blessed by Abraham’s offspring. This announcement came about 1,870 years before Christ was born (Genesis 22:18). Also, in this verse is a second fulfilled prophecy that Jesus would come from the seed of King David (Jeremiah 23:5-6). That promise was made about 590 B. C. and was fulfilled when Jesus was born.
See what happens when you jump over the “boring stuff”? These verses reveal and help us realize that Jesus was not just an ordinary man. He was a fulfilled promise from our Creator. One of the most important truths God wants everyone to know can be missed if skipped!
Chapter 1 can seem like a long, boring list of names, but it’s actually an incredible testament to the faithfulness of God and his eternity-long plan for us. So as we continue our journey throughout this year, let me encourage you. As we’re diving into each chapter, and you’re reading these lines, don’t skip out on what may seem insignificant. Because let’s be honest, there’s nothing insignificant in this book. It all serves a purpose to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus.