Reading the Gospels – Matthew, Chapters 1-4

I can almost see/hear Carl Weathers bursting through the screen, saying “Here we go!” Yes, we’re going to read the Four Gospels from start to finish, four chapters at a time.

I have no idea how this will work. Some of these posts will summarize the chapters. Others, depending upon the content, might ask questions, offer analysis or reaction. We’ll just have to dive in and see.

Matthew – Chapter 1

The first 16 verses list the genealogy of Christ, starting with Abraham. In the World English Bible, these generational steps are described in terms of “X became the father of Y” which I prefer over “X begat Y”. Seems like more of a lifetime commitment than a transaction.

1:17 talks about:

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the exile to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon to the Christ, fourteen generations.

I counted all the generational steps in 1:1-16 and I got a sum of 39. Could someone explain the 39 vs. 14?

The rest of the chapter deals with the birth of Jesus. Mary is found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph is all prepared to hide her away to avoid public shame when an angel appears and tells him not to fear. The angel also tells him to name the child Jesus and that He will save people from their sins.

[Aside: In 1:8 we learn that "Asa became the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshapat became the father of Joram." Is this the origin of Jumpin' Jehosaphat?]

Chapter 2

Jesus is born in Bethlehem in the days of King Herod. Herod calls the wise men and tells them to go to Bethlehem and “search diligently for the young child.” So off they go. They see the star in the east and follow it until they find Mary and Jesus, whereupon they fall down and worship him and present their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. After the visit, they don’t return to Herod as he commanded. Warned in a dream, they take another route home. Meanwhile, another angel appears to Joseph and tells him to flee with his family to Egypt to escape Herod.

Having been disobeyed by the wise men and without Jesus, Herod is angry. He commands that all male children 2 and under be killed in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas.

After Herod dies, an angel appears to Joseph telling him to take Jesus and Mary to Israel. He does, but when he hears that Herod’s son Archelaus is now ruling, he stops and is then warned in a dream to go to Nazareth in the region of Galilee.

Chapter 3

Here we first hear of John the Baptizer (John the Baptist). Wearing clothes of camel’s hair and eating locusts and honey, he travels the wilderness of Judea preaching “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” People from all over come to him, confess their sins, and get baptized in the Jordan River. Many Pharisees and Sadducees also come for the baptism and John, though gritting his teeth, baptizes them but tells them, “he who comes after me is mightier than I…”

In 3:13, Jesus comes from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized. John thinks Jesus should baptize him, not the other way around, but Jesus convinces him that “this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus is baptized and immediately rises out of the water. The heavens part and the Spirit of God descends as a dove. A voice from the heavens says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Chapter 4

The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to fast for forty days and nights…and to be tempted by the devil. The devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world “if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus declines with the famous “Get behind me, Satan!”

The devil leaves. Jesus hears that John has been “delivered up” and moves by the sea to Capernaum where he begins preaching “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Walking along he recruits Peter (Simon) and Andrew and James and John to drop their nets and become “fishers for men.” Jesus goes all over Galilee, teaching and preaching and healing “every disease and every sickness.” Word gets out fast, and soon “great multitudes” are following him.

Summary

We learn the family tree, Jesus is born and grows into a preacher in just four quick chapters (just 10 pages in What He Said). It’s fun to zip along through time that fast, but I would have appreciated more stories of Jesus as a toddler, growing boy, and troublesome teenager. What do you think?

Assignment for Next Week (3/4): Matthew, Chapters 5-8

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