The Birth of Jesus and the Shepherds visit
Comment: Matthew’s intention in writing this gospel and specifically the portion we are dealing with, which is the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, was to show the Jews from the Old testament that Jesus is indeed the messiah that the prophets prophesied about. That Jesus is indeed the Christ and the Son of God. For a Jew (and it should also be for us), the Old Testament is cast in stone, it is from God and every word is true and should be obeyed. Matthew knew that if he used the very Old Testament to prove to the Jews that, Jesus was indeed the Christ and the Son of God, they will accept Him as such. It is important to note that Matthew could do this because Jews accepted scripture to be the word of God and authoritative and without error or contradiction.
Message: If you will not accept scripture as the very word of God, literal and authoritative, then how can you accept and acknowledge God?
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Comment: As I indicated in my intro comments, Matthew will show in this gospel not only that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, meaning that he was part of the covenants of promise that God had with Abraham, and a rightful Jew but, also that He was also a descendant of King David which meant He had the right to the throne. Matthew used the genealogy of Jesus to show his bloodline from Abraham to David and then to Joseph.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of …… and Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,
7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, ………16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
Comment: As you can see from the genealogy, Jesus is indeed from Abraham to David and to Joseph. Now Jews kept a very strict genealogy and it was very important to them. From the above genealogy, one can without a doubt, see that indeed Jesus not only comes from the line of Abraham, but also has the right to the throne, as Joseph was from the line of David and from Solomon, and Mary His mother from the line of David’s son Nathan. So, on both sides, He is the rightful king of the Jews.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
Word Study: To be betrothed is to be legally engaged and pledged to marry. To break this engagement, was to divorce.
Comment: While engaged, Mary became pregnant with a child and the child was not Joseph’s since they had not yet come together. Plus, we also know from Luke 1:34-35 that Mary was still a virgin when she became pregnant. This in itself is a miracle since it is not possible for a woman to become pregnant without knowing a man but, in Mary’s case, it was the Holy Spirit that came upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. She then became pregnant. Luke tells us that the child will then be called holy the Son of God. This pregnancy and the way it came about is very important in the sense that all of us who are born through a man, we inherit the sin of Adam and thereby are born in sin. Jesus was not born through a man hence he was born sinless because he did not inherit the original sin.
19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
Comment: Joseph was obviously and justifiably unhappy with this pregnancy. Even though he was unhappy, because he was a just man, he did not resort to put her to shame by telling the whole world how “sinful” she was, instead, he resorted to divorcing her quietly.
Message: A lesson to be learned from Joseph here is that, we don’t always have to resort to getting even with those that do wrong to us.
20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Comment: As Joseph was contemplating the divorce, an angel appeared to him in a dream. The angel told Joseph that Mary’s pregnancy was not by a man but from the Holy Spirit. Notice that the angel called Joseph the Son of David. This is important as this means that Jesus was the rightful heir of the throne. Luke also tells us in Luke 1:32-33, that and I quote “and the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and his kingdom shall have no end”. Therefore Jesus was born a King. The angel told Joseph that he should not fear to take Mary as his wife. The angel told joseph that Mary will bear a son and Joseph must call Him Jesus (meaning the Lord Saves) because He will save His people from their sins. Luke calls Jesus a Savior, the agent of salvation, the rescuer and the deliverer.
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Comment: As I indicated in the beginning,Matthew uses the Old Testament to show the Jews that indeed Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Here Matthew quotes from Isaiah 7:14. If any of the Jews had a problem with the virgin birth or did not believe that it was possible, then why did Isaiah prophesy it. If virgin birth is in the Old Testament, then it is indeed possible and it has happened with Jesus.
24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,
25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Comment: When Joseph woke up, he changed his mind about the divorce and did as the angel commanded her. He took Mary as His wife but, knew her not until she had given birth to a son and he called him Jesus.
Before we move on to chapter 2 of Matthew to discuss the visit by wise men, I need to at this time point out that there are more details that took place between after the angel spoke to Joseph and when the wise men visited. Luke 2:1-42 gives the details and I think it is important for us to discuss these.
Luke 2:1-7, Luke gives us the reason why Joseph went up to Bethlehem of Judea. Registration was required and each person had to register in their own home town. Joseph was from the house and lineage of David and his home town was Bethlehem. Mary was pregnant when they went to Bethlehem and Jesus was born while they were there. Luke 2:8-21, Luke tells us about how the angels visited the shepherds and informed them that on that day a Savior was born unto them. The shepherds visited Jesus and after the visit, they went on praising and glorifying God. After 8 days, Jesus was circumcised.
Luke 2:7 (ESV Strong’s)
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
This verse shows us how Mary clothed Jesus immediately after He was born.
Luke 2:12 (ESV Strong’s)
12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
This verse is what the angels told the shepherds will be a sign to them that indeed it was baby Jesus they were looking at. This coupled with the fact that the shepherds wasted no time in visiting Jesus, tells me that the shepherds visited Jesus on the same day.
Luke 2:16 (ESV Strong’s)
16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
Luke 2:22-38, Luke introduces us to Simeon and Anna who saw Jesus when he was presented at the temple in Jerusalem. Both the people rejoiced as they indicated that they have seen the salvation and redemption of God’s people respectively. Luke 2:39-40, Luke tells us that after they had done as required by the law at the temple in Jerusalem, Joseph and his family returned to Nazareth of Galilee where Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the favor of God was upon Him. Luke 2:41-42, Luke tells us importantly that every year, Joseph and his family went up to Jerusalem for the passover feast and when Jesus was twelve, they went as usual. This means importantly that for the last eleven years since Jesus was born, they have been going to Jerusalem. Therefore it is no surprise that when the wise men from the east came to visit, they found them in Bethlehem of Judea and not Nazareth. Since Bethlehem was Joseph’s hometown, it would make sense that when they came to Jerusalem for the passover feast, instead of staying in Jerusalem, they would stay in Bethlehem. When the wise men from the east came for a visit, Jesus was already born, Joseph and his family had already gone back to Nazareth and now where again in Bethlehem as we will see later on, and this according to Luke, they did every year.