Online Sunday School. The Gospel of Matthew, God With Us. Kerygma Materials. Chapter 3

  1. Matthew adds to Mark unique stories of the origin of Jesus. These make his theological points that Jesus is the fulfillment of Jewish scriptures, including that God comes to the whole world, not just the Jews.
    1. The genealogy of Jesus
      1. Matthew shows a series of 14 generations between significant events in Jewish history; Abraham to David; David to the Babylonian exile; the exile to Jesus.
      2. Jesus’ genealogy also includes four women, unusual for this patriarchal society. The four women, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, are all sexually “quetionable” and probably foreign as well. This presages Jesus’ conflict with the piety and social hierarchy of his time, his association with “sinners,” and the inclusiveness of God toward all people.
    2. A fifth “questionable woman” is Mary, pregnant before her marriage. Joseph is obedient to God in accepting her, reminiscent of the righteousness and obedience of Abraham.
    3. Jesus has a miraculous birth, a tradition honoring the most significant people in those times. This supports the view that Jesus is the Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Conception of the Messiah by a virgin invokes Isaiah 7, 14 and particularly the Septuagint (Greek) translation that was then widely used.
    4. Matthew shows Jesus born in Bethlehem, the home town of David, fleeing to Egypt and returning, invoking the original Joseph, Moses and the Exodus.
    5. Gentiles, here “magi” from the East, probably priests or astrologers from Parthia or Persia, honor Jesus while the deceitful Jewish king Herod, who serves Rome, plans to kill him as a threat to his own power. The chief priests and scribes identify Bethlehem as the place from which the Messiah will come, quoting Micah 5, 2 and 2 Samuel 5, 2.  The star the Magi follow is also associated with Messianic prophecy, Numbers 24, 17.
    6. The Magi find Jesus at his house in Bethlehem, kneel and pay him homage. They leave 3 gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, which are associated with wealth, anointing and embalming.
    7. When the Magi do not return to Herod, he orders a slaughter of infants resembling that done by the Egyptians from which Moses escapes in Exodus, as well as invoking both the original Joseph and the Passover.
    8. The family escapes until Herod’s death, then comes out of Egypt to Nazareth, which becomes Jesus’ hometown. The word Nazareth invokes other Old Testament passages, including the “shoot” arising from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 11, 11), and the “Nazirites” separated and dedicated to God. Numbers 6.