Matthew Begins – Matthew 1.1-17
I was updating up my family tree over the Christmas break and in doing so I was reminded of my origins. Where we come from has always been important to humans and these days we are even using DNA tests to discover more of our history. This week we open the Gospel of Matthew, which will be our background text for the next season. We see straight away that Matthew is keen to identify the origins of Jesus as he simply lists His family tree. If you are like me you will have skipped this bit when reading Matthew before. After all, what can we learn from a list of names? More than you might imagine, so come and explore with us.
Speaking Notes – Caveat
These notes are my speaking notes and are provided as an accompaniment to the recording. Please accept that they are not intended to be a published grammatically correct essay. I do hope and pray however they help you move towards Jesus.
Now onto the content…
They called themselves the wildmen. The lead Apache of the flight was call-sign Wildman Five Zero, it’s wing aircraft Wildman Five One. Their credo was simple: do whatever it took to get the job done.
The opening lines from Damien Lewis’ book Apache Dawn. and then there is. James Patterson’s novel Never Never.
IF YOU REACH the camp before me, I’ll let you live, the soldier said. It was the same chance he allowed them all.
Two random books plucked from my bookshelf. Books with opening lines that say come on in, adventure awaits. Every storyteller from the beginning of time knows that you must grab the attention of your reader, your listener immediately. You must grab hold of their imagination and feed it if you want your message to be remembered. Now we come to the book that has been called the greatest story ever told. We come to the Gospel of Matthew. And it starts with a list of names! You may have read this week that I confessed to often skipping those list of names when I read different parts of the Bible. It speeds things up a whole lot, especially parts of the Old Testament. Am I the only one willing to confess that I do that, or are there others out there?
After all, what can we learn from a list of names? Well, we will discover that shortly.
Matthew A Guided Tour
But first, let’s take a quick guided tour of Matthew and get an overview of it. Because Matthew is going to be our default reading for some time. When we are not looking at something else specifically we will come back to Matthew as our default. So we are looking at Matthew for the next few weeks, then we might look at our vision as a church, then delve back into Matthew. Easter will come along and so we will leave Matthew to one side for a while returning to it perhaps afterwards once more. You get the picture. This approach means we will walk with the Gospel of Matthew for some time, so it is good to get an overview now to aid our understanding as we go along.
Much, if not most of what I am going to speak about will come from people like N T Wright, John Mark Comer, Tim Mackie and others. Theologians who have spent not hours, days or even weeks or months, but years pouring over these texts. Some will come from what I believe God’s Spirit is saying to us and I have no doubts you will discover for yourself more of what God is saying as we explore Matthew. In the time we can allocate to preaching in our services I can only hope to whet your appetite. But if you are keen to become an apprentice, a disciple of Jesus then I highly recommend that you take little of the 167 hours a week that you are not in church to go to read or listen to some of these teachers. To that end, I will put up some information on the website. If you goto www.bedhampton.church/matthew you will find some links and I’ll have that published in the pew sheet next week.
But to the tour of Matthew
The book is anonymous but is named Matthew because it is widely believed that Matthew the tax collector also know as Levi in the other gospels wrote it.
One of the resources that I shall point you is called The Bible Project (https://thebibleproject.com/explore/matthew). They suggest that Matthew is a sandwich of a book with an outer container of introduction and conclusion along with five core ingredients.
In our slice of bread that is the introduction are chapters, 1-3 where Matthew introduces Jesus. His core aim is to show us how Jesus is the continuation and fulfilment of God’s plan for his people Israel. We see him link Jesus to Abraham and David, and to the prophecies of a Messiah.
We see him liken Jesus to a new Moses.
- Jesus and Moses both come out of Egypt.
- Jesus and Moses both have significant events with water. The Red Sea and Baptism.
- Moses spends 40 years in the wilderness, Jesus is tempted for 40 days in the wilderness.
- Moses receives the law from a mountain. Jesus teaches what the fulfilment of the law means on a mountain.
Jesus is the new Moses and more. He is Emmanuel he is God With Us.
Then we get onto the filling and the five sections. Each of these sections has a core theme, followed up by some teaching from Jesus.
- Chapters 4-7 is where Matthew announces God’s Kingdom has come and we see Jesus teach the core of what that really means in the Sermon On The Mount.
- Chapters 8-10 Matthew shows God’s Kingdom has come in the here and now. We hear stories of healing and miracles. Jesus having shown his authority says follow Me! He sends out the 12 and teaches on what it means to follow him.
- Chapters 11-13 Is a story of the responses to Jesus. Some people are positive, others incredibly negative, whilst don’t even notice him. Sound familiar? There is nothing new under the sun. Jesus then goes on to teach in stories and parables.
- Chapters 14-20 Show how different people had different expectations of Jesus. Many believe he would be a warrior. But Jesus shows that the Messiah is more like a suffering servant. He teaches on the upside-down kingdom of God. The last will be first, to be like him is to be a servant and, not a master, not a King
- Chapters 21-25 Completes our filling as we see a clash of God’s Kingdom and the kingdom of the world followed by more of Jesus teaching.
Our second slice of bread to hold this is our conclusion. The road to the Cross. In chapters 26-28 we have The Last Supper, Crucifixion and Resurrection and The Great Commission. All through this conclusion, Matthew is reminding us how Jesus fulfils Old Testament prophecies particularly in relation to Isaiah.
You see you think you know Matthew, don’t you? And particularly the early parts of Matthew that we read at Christmas. And you might think, hold on haven’t we just done all that Christmas stuff? But I would ask you to put to one side the nativities and you understanding of Christmas and come to Matthew fresh. Matthew has layer upon layer of fresh revelation for us and I really believe God will speak anew to you about his love and vision for the world and for you.
For instance, what could you possibly learn of your place in God’s heart from a list of names? The first words we read before the list of names is
1. This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah
We could gloss over that and miss what God is saying, but there is deep meaning here. Because the word translated into English as genealogy is the word pronounced ghen’-es-is (phonetic) or as we would say, Genesis. Does that sound familiar? Of course, it does the first book in our Bible is called Genesis. But there is more. If we jump just one more verse further in our reading than we read, we read.
18. This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about…
I’ll you give one guess what Greek word the English word birth is translated from? You got it, ghen’-es-is. Matthew is saying this list of names is important it is the origin of who Jesus Christ really is. And just in case we didn’t get it he says it twice.
Matthew goes on to remind us that Jesus comes from Abraham. He comes from Abraham the father of the faith. The man who God rescued, the man who obeyed God. The man who God spoke to and said.
…your descendants [will be] as numerous as the stars in the sky
Jesus also comes from David. There is prophecy after prophecy that the Messiah will come from the line of David sometimes known as the Root of Jessie.
There is some great number play here as well. All the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the exile into Babylon fourteen generations, and from Babylon to the Jesus fourteen generations. But I haven’t got time to go into that if you want to understand that check out John Mark Comers rant about it on the Bridgetown Church feed.
What we truly need to understand at this point is that Jesus is the fulfilment of the story of Israel and therefore the fulfilment of our story.
This simple list of names important? It is important because it speaks of the origins, the Genesis of who Jesus is. It says what shaped Jesus. This genealogy shows us who Jesus is, and in turn, we will discover who we are. We are God’s people. The people the Messiah Jesus came to save and to Love.
If we speak about our origins, our family, our background is about how we have been shaped. We are new creations but as we discussed last week who we were where we come from does impact us. Both positively and negatively.
I have given you the highlights of Jesus family history but as I come into land I want to remind you of a few more of the people who were family to God himself come to this earth.
Did you notice that women are mentioned in the genealogy? Nothing unusual there, except it, never happen at the time people were not interested in who the woman was. Who was your Dad that is what mattered? Ladies, have you ever felt written off by society? Jesus says no that is not the way you are key, you are family you are loved.
There are sex workers in the genealogy, Rahan, Tamar (pretended). What about the wife of Uriah known as Bathsheba. Whichever way you look at it David’s fault Bathsheba’s fault their affair caused massive pain. Why would Matthew want to remind people that there were men and women of dubious moral fibre in the line of Jesus? Have you ever mucked up? Jesus says you are not excluded you are key, you are family you are loved.
Jews and Gentiles
And I must stop there. Except to say that there are young and old, good and bad, Jews and non-Jews (gentiles) wrapped up in His story. Jesus is saying though Matthew if you ever felt odd and separated you are welcome you are key, you are family you are loved.
The Big Idea
Jesus story is our story when you become a follower, and an apprentice to Jesus you are adopted into his family. That promise stands tall. Just as God’s promise to Abraham was fulfilled through Jesus so is God’s promise to you fulfilled through Jesus. And just as Matthew’s Gospel purpose is to show us that Jesus will turn our idea of God’s Kingdom upside down. So when we truly accept Jesus and live it out he will turn our world upside down as well.
Want to be part of the family? The decision is up to us.