Matthew 1:1 – 4:25
by Paul George
Matthew answers the questions, was Jesus the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. If He was the Messiah why did He fail to establish the promised kingdom? Will it ever be established? What is God’s purpose in the meantime?
If Matthew’s claim Jesus is the Messiah he must prove it. He must prove the promise to Abraham, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” and “in your seed all the nations shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3; 22:18) is fulfilled in Jesus. He must prove the promise to King David “your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16) is fulfilled in Jesus. He must prove Jesus, in the flesh, is a descendant of Abraham through Isaac, Jacob, and Judah. He must prove Jesus is a descendant of David. Matthew offers as evidence Jesus is the Messiah, in Him the promise to Abraham and David Jesus’ genealogy.
There is something in Jesus’ genealogy that is not found in Luke’s genealogy, four women’s names, Rahab, a Canaanite, and Ruth, a Moabite, Tamar and Bathsheba who were adulteresses. Why is Matthew including these names in Jesus’ genealogy? There is a reason.
In verse 16 Matthew makes an interesting statement. He said, “Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.” The usage of the word “whom” implies Jesus was born of Mary only and not of Mary and Joseph. This is the strongest evidence for the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus.
Matthew’s genealogy establishes Jesus’ legal right to the throne of David. He is a descendant of David. Jesus is called the Messiah that is the Anointed. Aaron the priest was anointed (Leviticus 8:12), Elisha the prophet was anointed (1 Kings 19:16) and David the king was anointed (1 Samuel 16:13). Jesus will fill all three of these offices.
Matthew offers the birth of Jesus as evidence He is the Messiah.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child by the Holy Spirit.”
Mary and Joseph were not married. We would say today they were engaged. They were under a contract to be married, arranged by the parents of Mary. Before the time came, which was a year after the arrangements were made for the marriage of Mary, Joseph learned Mary was pregnant. Before Joseph learned of her pregnancy Mary was told by the angel Gabriel, “you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and His kingdom will have no end.” She knew the divine original of her conception, but can she prove, how can she explain to Joseph what has happened. Who will believe her?
What about Joseph? What a great disappointment this was to him. He was a just man, a good man, a merciful man and a strict observer of the law. He was going to give Mary a bill of divorce but he was going to do it privately. But God has other plans for Joseph. He is going to give Joseph an honor that will far exceed any honor bestowed upon man. He will be called the father of Jesus, the Messiah.
Joseph was a man whose heart and will were in tune with God’s will. The heavenly Father sends a message to the earthly father. The messenger calls Joseph the son of David that he might realize the relationship he will have with the Messiah and great honor that is being bestowed upon him. He is delivered from his worst fears. He is told “son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife: for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” It is a great blessing to be delivered from our fears and doubts. Joseph has nothing to fear. He can take Mary to be his wife. Everything happening is according to God’s plan.
His name is Jesus. His name is Joshua. He is called Jesus for the sake of conforming it to the Greek. In the Old Testament there were two men name Joshua. Joshua was the name of the name who led Israel into the Promised Land after the death of Moses. Joshua was the name of the high priest in Jerusalem during the rebuilding of the city (Zechariah 6:11-12). Jesus is our Joshua, the Captain of our salvation and the High Priest of our confession. He is our Savior who comes as Moses did when he led Israel out of oppression and enslavement in Egypt. He does for us what the Law of Moses could not do in that it was weak. He is able to save to the uttermost and there is salvation in no other. He came not only to save His people, Jews, but all who will accept Him as their Savior and Lord. We are saved from our sins not in our sins, from the guilt of sin by the merit of His death, from the dominion of sin by His grace.
Jesus is the Messiah, His genealogy proves He is the Messiah, the announcement of His birth provides He is the Messiah. Matthew now moves to another source of evidence to prove Jesus is the Messiah
“Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel; which translated means, God with us.”
The word “behold” is a command to pay attention. It was predicted the Messiah shall be of a virgin. The word “almah” means a virgin in the strictest sense, just as Mary told the angel, “I know not a man” (Luke 1:34). It was intended before the foundation of the earth was cast the Messiah will be born of a virgin; He will be the Seed of the woman and not the seed of any man. He was born of virgin not because His birth was to be supernatural and extraordinary, but because He is to be spotless, pure, without any stain of sin. He will appear without pomp or splendor. He will be born of virgin so that He can teach us spiritual purity.
Who is this Child who will be born of a virgin? He is the Son of God and the Mediator between God and man. He shall be called “Immanuel, God with us.” The people of Israel had God with them in types and shadows, dwelling between the cherubim, but never more than when the “Word was made flesh.”
What a beautiful lesson can be learned form verse 24. Joseph did as he was told to do. It was contrary to his former intentions, what he believed was the right thing to do. He took Mary as his wife. He did it without delay and cheerfully. There were no doubts he was doing the right thing, no second guessing. No debating or seeking advice from family or friends. Joseph didn’t know what the future would be all he was determined to do was the directions of God for his life. If only we could learn to do that. We often forfeit blessings because we are determined to things our way and don’t heed the stop signs the Lord places in our path. While we are to strive to be like Jesus, being like Joseph and Mary wouldn’t do us any harm.
Joseph solemnized the marriage with Mary, his espoused wife but he kept his distance, he “kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
The Child born of a virgin had His eyes focus on one thing. It was not a throne or a castle. It was a rough cut Roman cross. It was on this cross the Lamp of God will shed His blood that we might be redeemed and our fellowship with God renewed.
He is the Messiah and He returning. We need to be ready to meet Him.