New Testament in 6 months – day 1

1 Apr

After meditating on Psalm 139 for 40 days and then Psalm 22 during Holy Week I decided to go through the New Testament. There are letters that I have read but not looked into much and so thought that it would be a good thing to do that, and also go through the gospels and Acts while I am at it.

Matthew 1:1-2:23
A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ. This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea, ” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up, ” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

It might seem a bit strange to be doing verses around Jesus’ birth so soon after Easter, but interestingly these verses are linked. But they also tell us some interesting things about Jesus.

1 – Leaving aside the fact that although Jesus’ biological father was not Joseph He still claimed His heritage through him, we can see that Jesus’ ancestors is very interesting. For starters, He is not the direct descendant from the first-born, or even the first-born sons. Judah was the 4th son if Jacob’s first wife, Leah, and David was the youngest of the sons of Jesse. We also see that there are some interesting women in His genealogy. We see Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, pretended to be a prostitute and had twins with her father-in-law. We see Rahab, who protected Joshua’s spies from the king of Jericho, was a prostitute. Naomi was a Moabite who married an Israelite descended from Joseph, despite the laws on marriage outside of the Israelites. And we also see Bathsheba in there, mother of Solomon, who David had an affair with and then, when she became pregnant, had her husband killed. Not exactly a squeaky clean family tree!

2 – We can see prophecies about who Jesus was going to be all through the verses. Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2, Jeremiah 31:15 and Hosea 11:1 are all mentioned by Matthew.

3 – Easter is clearly pointed to in chapter 2, particularly verses 11 and 23.
In 11 we see the gifts of the Magi: Gold for a king, Frankincense for a priest and Myrrh for a burial. They point to Jesus’ life, as someone leading the people to worship God. They point to Jesus’ death and the sorrow that Mary will have to go through as her son dies while she is still alive. They point to Jesus’ resurrection, where all power in Heaven and on earth are given to Him and He sits at the right hand if the Father.
And then we have verse 23 talking about Jesus being a Nazarene. It might seem innocuous at first, but if we read John 1:45-46 we see the early signs of the rejection to come. First in His hometown, then by the religious leaders and then, finally, by the very people He came to save. Nazareth was in Galilee, a place hated by many because it was in the area where Samaritans came from. It was the land of the people who had interbred with non-Jews and were now considered outsiders. And it was into this setting that Jesus, often referred to as “of Nazareth”, took His identity.

And the thing that sticks out to me most from these observations is that the despised and rejected people of their time were welcomed in to God’s salvation plan for the world. He could have made Jesus’ family tree pure Israelite/Jew and absent of any obvious wrongdoers, but He didn’t. And so we see that no matter who we are or what we do wrong, forgiveness and salvation are available to everyone who calls on Christ as their Saviour and King.

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