13 Dec. Matthew 1:1-17,22-23

13 Dec. How do we know that Jesus's birth was unique?

"This is the family history of Jesus Christ. He came from the family of David, and David came from the family of Abraham."

"Abraham was the father of Isaac.
Isaac was the father of Jacob.
Jacob ['Israel'] was the father of Judah and his [11] brothers [the 'tribes of Israel']…"

"Matthan was the father of Jacob.
Jacob was the father of Joseph.
Joseph was the husband of Mary,
and Mary was the mother of Jesus.
Jesus is called the Christ [the 'Messiah' or 'anointed one']."

"So there were 14 generations from Abraham to David. And there were 14 generations from David until the people [of Israel] were taken to Babylon. And there were 14 generations from the time when the people were taken to Babylon until Christ was born..."

"All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,' which means 'God is with us'."

          (Matthew 1:1-17 & 22-23)


 

How can we go about exploring why Jesus's birth was so special?

Today, we might look at the life of Jesus and ask what was unique about it? What did he do? What evidence is there that he did things that only God can do (like heal the sick, raise the dead, forgive sins and promise eternal life)?

This is evidence that Jesus himself pointed to when John the Baptist's disciples came to ask if he was the 'anointed one' they were expecting. Jesus said, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind can see, the crippled can walk and people with skin diseases are healed. The deaf can hear, the dead are raised to life and the Good News is preached to the poor." (Matthew 11:4-5)

This is the sort of 'evidence' we would seek today to establish Jesus's role in history. But it didn't work like that in Jewish society at the beginning of the 1st century AD. The Jewish explanation of history was essentially 'cyclic' - things tended to happen because they'd happened before; they fulfilled the cycle of events. So if you were looking for another great warrior king, you had to look for someone like King David. If you were looking for another great prophet, then you needed to see what a previous prophet had foretold about him.

Which is why, at the beginning of Matthew's gospel, we have 17 verses explaining the family history of Jesus. For Jews, if Jesus was special, you had to look back at his lineage. If you were expecting another great king like King David, the 'evidence' that Jesus might be this new king was to 'prove' that he was descended from King David himself.

And if you wanted 'evidence' that Jesus was God-made-man then you needed to 'prove' that a previous prophet had said this about him.

So, as 'proof', Matthew, quotes the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14), when he says "All this happened to bring about what the LORD had said through the prophet: 'The young woman will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,' which means 'God is with us'." (Matthew 1:22-23)

The photo shows Bethlehem, the 'city of David' at night (by Sengaska).

You can watch a short video about the meaning of the birth of Jesus at Christmas time @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/the-bible-journey/3-jesuss-childhood-journeys-b/the-birth-of-jesus/


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