Matthew 1–2: Outcasts & Obedience

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 1: Saturday

Saturday’s Bible reading is Matthew 1–2.  These chapters contain the genealogy of Jesus, beginning with Abraham, then continue with his birth and infancy—the marriage of Mary and Joseph, the Magi, Herod, the slaying of the baby boys of Bethlehem, the flight to Egypt—and end with the return to Israel and the start of family life in Nazareth.  In 1:22–23; 2:5, 15, 17–18 and 23, Matthew tells us specific prophecies fulfilled in the birth and childhood of Jesus.

Within the genealogy that opens the book, four women are named—three of whom were sexually immoral: Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba.  The fourth woman, Ruth, was from Moab, a country that was an enemy of Israel.  John MacArthur has a sermon with great details on this genealogy; here are only a few lines:

“…the grace of God is seen in the inclusion of four outcasts.

It may say women on your outline, but I mean it to say outcasts….

…And you know, I think, I think that this genealogy was a literal knockout punch by Matthew against the Jews. And by that I mean those antagonistic, hateful ones. They were legalistic, boy, they were hot on the pedigree and the line of purity and all of this heritage stuff, and so he introduces the Messiah as descending from two harlots, one adulteress, and one produced of incest. Coming through a nation whose history was a degenerated history, coming from two sinful men, and born to one sinful lady was the King of all Kings. Let it be known to Israel and anybody who listens, Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners, did you get that? He’s the friend of sinners. And He Himself said it, I have not come to call the righteous but (what?) sinners to repentance.”

Isn’t that wonderful?  Another thing to note is that the genealogy in Matthew is thought to be that of Joseph, while the one in Luke is thought to be Mary’s.

As I read these chapters I also thought that while Mary’s role is told in detail in Luke, here in Matthew we read of Joseph’s key role in caring for Mary and Jesus.  At four pivotal points of crucial importance Joseph had a dream in which an angel appeared and commanded him or God warned him, and each time Joseph awoke and obeyed:  he married Mary, he took Mary and Jesus and left for Egypt (while it was still night!), he brought Mary and Jesus back to Israel, and he settled in Galilee rather than Judea.  None of those things were easy things to do; each had its intrinsic difficulties and each required faith in God.

As I read these chapters, Joseph and the character he demonstrated is what stayed with me, what an amazing man.  What an example to follow.

_________
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
John MacArthur, Grace to You: The Gracious King.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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