The ancestors and birth of Jesus
The ancestors of Jesus
1Jesus Christ came from the family of King David and also from the family of Abraham. And this is a list of his ancestors.2-6aFrom Abraham to King David, his ancestors were:
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and his brothers (Judah's sons were Perez and Zerah, and their mother was Tamar), Hezron;
Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Obed (his mother was Ruth), Jesse, and King David.
6b-11From David to the time of the exile in Babylonia, the ancestors of Jesus were:
David, Solomon (his mother had been Uriah's wife), Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram;
Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, and Jehoiachin and his brothers.
12-16From the exile to the birth of Jesus, his ancestors were:
Jehoiachin, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim;
Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, and Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
17There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David. There were also fourteen from David to the exile in Babylonia and fourteen more to the birth of the Messiah.
The birth of Jesus
18This is how Jesus Christ was born. A young woman named Mary was engaged to Joseph from King David's family. But before they were married, she learnt that she was going to have a baby by God's Holy Spirit.19Joseph was a good man and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to call off the wedding quietly.
20While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her.21Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said,23“A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
24After Joseph woke up, he and Mary were soon married, just as the Lord's angel had told him to do.25But they did not sleep together before her baby was born. Then Joseph named him Jesus.
Joseph? In Luke’s gospel we read a lot about Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Mary. Joseph was mentioned only in 1:27 as the man Mary was engaged to. It is very fitting that Matthew focuses on Joseph. He had a very difficult part to play! But God cared about Joseph too, and made sure that this story was recorded in Matthew.
Did you skip the genealogy? You are forgiven if you did. If Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus were published today the genealogy would probably be in a footnote or appendix. It’s not part of the story as we think of it. But for the Jews it was part of the story, because it shows how Joseph’s family is descended from Abraham. And curiously, and interestingly, it weaves in Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, as well as Mary. Women aren’t usually mentioned in ancient genealogies. Tamar had been abused (Genesis 38), Rahab was a Gentile and a prostitute (Joshua 2), Ruth a Moabitess (Ruth 1-4), and Bathsheba had committed adultery with David (2 Samuel 11). That they’re included in Jesus’ genealogy gives us food for thought.
Joseph’s story is told in the barest way. He was a good man, faithful to the law (v.19) but also considerate of Mary. She must have told him about the angel who visited her, and what the angel said. Maybe he couldn’t bring himself to believe her, or maybe he just didn’t want to be in the way of what God was doing with Mary. Then God intervened in a dream, and told him not to be afraid of taking Mary as his wife. He explained that this was God’s baby, and his name was to be Jesus, which means “God saves.” In Hebrew this name is “Joshua,” so it’s not a new name. But Jesus will not save in a military sense, from foreign enemies, but he will save his people from their sins. Jesus is also “Emmanuel,” “God with us.” We have heard these words so often that they probably go right over our head. Think about these familiar ideas now.
Dear Father, thank you so much that you care about all the people in this story. Thank you for including these women in the genealogy! Thank you for bringing Joseph into the story. And make it real and practical to me that Jesus saves me from my sins, and that God is with me.