The Christmas Story – Part 1

Hello all! Today we will start our Christmas series where we will look deeper into the events surrounding the birth of Christ.

Let us begin in Matthew 1…

Each of the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – has a different tone. Matthew was a Jew writing to the Jews, so he begins his story of Christ by laying the foundation of Jesus’ Jewish ancestry.

Note that Matthew begins with Abraham, compared to Luke’s record tracing all the way back to Adam in Luke 3. But as we noted, Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience, and there are two important reasons why this starting point would have held great significance to them.

  • Abraham is noted many places in Scripture to be the father of the Jews: Gen 26:15, 18, 24; Gen  31:42, 53; Josh 24:3; Is 51:2; Luke 16:24; John 8:39, 53; Rom 4:16
  • God is often referred to as “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:” Gen 28:13; Gen 31:42, 53; Gen 32:9; Exodus 3:6, 15; 1Kings 18:36; 1Chron 29:18; Ps 47:9; Is 63:16; Matt 22:32; Acts 3:13, 7:32; Rom 4:16

Therefore, Matthew was making the case that Jesus was a direct descendant of Abraham, which would have perked up the ear of any Jew because the Jews knew that the Messiah must come from this covenant family.

In addition, one aspect of Matthew’s report that is not prominent to most of us today, but would have shouted to a first-century Jew is the mathematical structure of the list and the abundant numerical symbolism.

As Matthew summarizes:

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations. Mt 1:17

Numbers held great meaning for the Jews. Scholars teach that three symbolized God and seven represented completion or totality ordained by God. Repetition added emphasis, so two sevens, or fourteen, greatly enhanced the notion of completion. So Matthew’s list of three sets of fourteen generations symbolized momentous God-ordained fullness or completion.

And what are three fourteens? 42. Six sevens.

And what does six introduce? (Are you with me? What comes after six?)

SEVEN!

The seventh seven.

The genealogy introduces the Seventh Seven Himself – JESUS.

A Jew would have understood that this passage represents the introduction of the One who would fulfill ALL prophecies. The One who would complete God’s plan of redemption. The One who would be unveiled throughout not only Matthew’s Gospel but the entire New Testament that follows.

The One who would say, “It is finished.”

Some concepts taken from Baker New Testament Commentary and The Pulpit Commentary.
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