What does it say?

Each of the four Gospels has a distinct emphasis, Matthew writes his Gospel with fellow Jews in mind. He shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises through the prophets of the Messiah to come. His material is very similar to Mark’s.

Matthew begins immediately with Jesus’ family line, followed by the account of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (Mat 1). Luke 2 also tells the story of Jesus’ birth. The two stories are complementary. Matthew tells us that an angel visits Joseph assuring him that Mary’s pregnancy was a supernatural event and that she would give birth to the Messiah.

God used Caesar Augustus to call for a taxing census in order for Jesus to be born in Joseph’s ancestral home of Bethlehem, even though he lived in the village of Nazareth (Luke 2). Luke also tells of the angelic announcement to the nearby shepherds. Luke 2 gives more information about Jesus’ birth and childhood than any other gospel. Luke 2 tells of Jesus’ circumcision, Mary’s purification in the temple when Simeon and Anna give witness and of his parent’s dedication of him during the Passover feast when Jesus was twelve-years-old.

What does it mean?

Looking at the Bible through Western eyes, it seems odd to think that Matthew would open with Jesus’ genealogy.  Certain cultures to this day (and certainly Jesus’ culture when he was born) place great value on one’s family ancestry. Imagine the reaction from family and friends in a small village when a young girl probably 13 to 15 years old comes up pregnant and insists that God has told her that she will give birth even though she has never been sexually active. Imagine the faith for Joseph to believe his angelic visitor and continue the process of marrying Mary.

Luke centers on the actual birth event of Jesus. We see God’s sovereignty over kings and kingdoms to accomplish the details of his mission. Luke’s emphasis in the last part of the chapter is to show that Jesus had a normal, balanced childhood of growth and development (2:40; 52). Clear in both gospels is the fact that Jesus’ birth is climatic to God’s mission and not merely a random event.

How will I respond?

What is my spiritual ancestry? Whom did God use for me to come to faith? Who are my spiritual “children?” Am I spiritually barren? Even if I am, God is powerful to give me fruit just as he opened Elizabeth’s womb. Today, I will pray that God will open my eyes to the people in my life that have hearts prepared to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.