Over the last week or so I have realised I am very unfamiliar with the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. I read through Mark in second year, and I’ve got a bit of a grasp of John, but as for Matthew and Luke, I’m pretty clueless. And the consequence of that is I don’t know Jesus very well.
If he is my King, my Saviour, the one for whom my salvation will bring glory to (as we learnt in Romans 8.29 last night), the one who will return to bring about my glorification and the new creation I’m longing for, the one who makes God known and makes him knowable… then if all that is the case which I’m sure it is, then I want to spend more time studying the gospels, delighting in who Jesus is, changing my thinking so I’m crystal clear what he said, what he did, why he did it (not just what Paul said, etc).
So I’m spending some time, however long it will take, reading Matthew’s gospel account and feasting on what I find. Here goes…
Matthew 1 is awesome! It’s flashing with big bright lights: ‘He’s here! He’s awesome!’. ‘The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.’ A mouthful and a half for any Jew to read. Literally, in the Greek, ‘the genesis’, the new beginning… of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, God’s chosen King! The son of David… the king of 2 Samuel 7, the son of Abraham, the promised offspring blessing the world of Genesis 12. I’ve just been knocked off my synagogue pew (or whatever seating you have in such places). ‘Wake up guys, he’s arrived!’, is Matthew’s message. And just when you were catching your breath it continues: ‘Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob’, Jacob, Judah, Perez, Tamar, Hezron… Boaz, Ruth, Jesse, David! David? ‘David the king’. Oh, that David.
David, Solomon… and on and on, all the way to the exile to Babylon. Then what? The end of the line? No: Jechoniah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel (big sirens going off… Haggai 2.23… shaking the heavens and the earth, overthrowing kingdoms), all the way down to Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
With child from the Holy Spirit (1.18, 20), adopted by Joseph into the Davidic line, and named Jesus because… ‘he will save his people from their sins‘ (1.21, 25). Well, there we go. Day 1. In fact not even Day 1, he hasn’t been born, and yet his mission is as clear-cut as they come: he will save his people from their sins. He came preaching love, to help us love each other, to understand ourselves, teaching mercy to the world? He will save his people from their sins. Understanding Jesus is about understanding his message of peace, we can all be one in Christ…. true, but because he will save his people from their sins.
And if child of promise, chosen king, saviour, wasn’t enough. Immanuel: God with us. The promised immanuel of Isaiah 7-9. This is the start of something massive.