Matthew’s Infancy Narrative – The Introduction

For our three weeks of Advent this year, we will read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest our way through the infancy narrative of Matthew’s gospel found in Matthew 1-2. I invite you to join us on Tuesday nights during this season as we prepare for Christmas. This week is Jesus’s Genealogy (Matt. 1:1-17), next week is Jesus’s Birth (Matt. 1:18-25), and the final week is the Visit of the Magi (Matt. 2). For this study, I am using Pope Benedict XVI’s book Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives and N.T. Wright’s book Matthew for Everyone.

Matthew begins his work with the words: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David and son of Abraham.” Matt. 1:1. For Matthew, the gospel story does not begin with Jesus’s Birth (as in Luke) or Jesus’s Baptism (as in Mark) or even Jesus’s cosmic origin (as in John) but begins with two other people – David and Abraham. For Matthew, the story of Jesus begins with Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises made to these two men.

The story of Abraham begins in Genesis 12 when God chooses to call Abram of Haran. God tells Abram to leave behind his own people and go to the land that God will show him. The purpose of God’s call is to establish Abraham and his descendants as a great nation through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Gen. 12:3. Jesus is the fulfillment of this promise. See, Gal. 3 and Rom. 4.

The story of David begins with the prophet Samuel anointing the young shepherd boy David as king. 1 Sam. 16:12. This anointing took place in David’s hometown of Bethlehem. 1 Sam. 16:4. In Hebrew the word “to anoint” is mashiach and the word for the person who is anointed is messiah. The Old Testament refers to David as the Messiah. 2 Sam. 23:1. The Greek word for “messiah” is christos. Teherefore, calling Jesus “Christ” is more of a political than a religious title.

God’s covenant with David is that David’s descendant would establish an everlasting kingdom. 2 Sam.7:12-13. After the fall of David’s kingdom to the Babylonians, the prophets will speak of God bringing forth a leader descended from David who will reestablish David’s kingdom and will rule with justice and righteousness. Isa. 55:3, Jer. 23:5, Ezek. 34:23, Hos. 3:5. By the time of Jesus, the son of David had become a somewhat apocalyptic title for the person who would free the Jews from the present Roman oppression. Matt. 22:41. When Matthew begins his gospel by proclaiming Jesus as the son of David, he is referring to the covenant, the prophecies, and the expectation.

If you have time this week over Thanksgiving, please read the above Bible passages concerning Abraham and David. Our discussion on Tuesday will focus on these two men and how Matthew anticipates Jesus fulfilling these two ancient Jewish covenants.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is turkey noodle soup and grilled cheese. Seating is weather-dependent. Discussion about 6:45. Please let us if you may be present.

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